This time, I went home.
The night Barack Obama was elected, I went to a place where slaves once toiled to mark the change and acknowledge the past.
Tuesday, I headed home.
I expected my family to sit down together and soak in the moment, allowing the solemnity of the events to say what words couldn't.
Then Lyric, my 4-year-old, said she wanted to bring her chocolate chip cookies and Goldfish crackers into the living room.
Then Kyle, my 7-year-old, began to raid the pantry and pulled out a granola bar, passing one to his sister. Then they laughed. Then they heard Pastor Rick Warren give the invocation and laughed again. I don't know why, but their laughs were hearty.
Then they poked each other a couple of times, pulled pillows from the couch. Then we sent them upstairs to play so my wife and I could absorb the history we were witnessing.
"In about 20 years we'll tell you what happened because I know you will want to know," my wife told them.
Then Kyle and Lyric began jumping on each other upstairs - one of them starting screaming "stop" – their voices growing louder by the minute.
Then we called them back downstairs, told them to get pen and pad and write notes about what they saw and heard and that a report would be required.
About that time, I noticed my attention turned from the inauguration to them and remained there through the swearing-in of Obama and Joe Biden, through the poem, through the Rev. Joseph Lowery's colorful closing.
It was exciting to follow Obama as he broke barrier after barrier, from becoming the first black man to win the Iowa caucuses, to becoming the first black man to head a major political party ticket, to his election-night victory and yesterday's official ascension to the presidency.
It's been fascinating tracking the various expectations a nation of more than 303 million have placed on his shoulders.
It's been fun (and frustrating) debating and dialoguing about what this all means, about how Obama will handle the first national security threat, how he will clean up Wall Street, if his economic policies will work or if his presence will signal to the world we truly have entered a new day.
It will be good to see him judged on his ability to usher us through uncertainty and not the color of skin. But what Lyric and Kyle did was more important. They pulled my focus back to where it needs to be, reminding me that now is the time to stop asking how Obama will handle his responsibilities and to take care of my own.