It was really exciting for me to be here for such an important event. Of course, in France we followed the political campaign and I could say that we're a bit of "Obamamaniacs" too. But to see and feel that in America was pretty different.
I was in a studio for the shooting of a fashion issue, but when the celebration started everybody stopped working. We were about 20 people total, not just from Marie Claire but from different magazines, following the event on a TV in the cafeteria. To tell you the truth, I wasn't as interested by the arrival of former presidents as I was by Aretha Franklin. I thought the show (yes, for me it was a show) was really powerful and patriotic. The sight of the crying crowd and the view of the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, or the bridge in San Francisco, which are symbols of America all over the world, had a strange effect on me. At first I thought, Oh, my God! It's the new big American movie! And I looked at it in the same way I watched Independence Day or The Day After a few years ago.
And then I was taken by the patriotic feeling of the crowd on television, of the people who were all around me, by the beauty of Aretha Franklin's amazing voice. Something broke in me ... my cynicism? At the end, I was crying along with the Americans, even though I wasn't one. Obama's solemn oath has been a discovery for me because I was surprised to see him take the oath on the Bible. I come from a secular country, and the USA is so famous for its diverse nationalities and religions, that sometimes I forget that it is not a secular nation, too.
I was really moved by the speech of the new American president — not just because of what he said (I searched a French translation because I didn't understand everything the first time), but because of the fervor of the people who were watching and listening to him. So much passion is not easy to understand for someone who comes from a place where the only doll you can find of the president is one in which you can stick a needle wherever you want, hoping that Sarkozy will fall sick, or better: abdicate!
On January 20 I felt American. And I hope that Barack Obama will prove worthy of the faith that so many people have in him.