Back in July of 2016, Laurie Mitchell decided she wanted to witness history with her daughters, in person, on Jan. 20, 2017 — though there was no guarantee history would be made.
Mitchell, a Hillary Clinton supporter, wanted badly to be at the inauguration. At the time, there had been no conventions, no debates, and few polls. Nonetheless, she felt certain Clinton would be elected president come January. Besides, she felt it was her civic duty to witness a peaceful transfer of power at least once.
She decided to take a chance and book a trip to the inauguration — and bring along her two adult daughters.
"Someday they will look back on it and they will say, 'Gosh, we went with our mom to see the first woman president of the United States inaugurated,'" Mitchell said. "They may say that 10, 20, 30, 50 years from now when I’m long gone, and they’ll carry that forward."
Some voters consider making plans to attend the inauguration before their candidate has won a jinx. A curse. Calling down the evil eye.
For others, the chance to see the inauguration of the first female president (before hotels booked up and plane tickets sold out) was too good to pass up — even if it meant rolling the dice.
Mitchell's daughter Tara, a high school college counselor in Massachusetts, saw this as a teaching opportunity for her students. Both women said that being part of this historic moment was enough motivation to get on a plane or a train.
"So many of [my students] are apathetic about voting or their role in the democratic process," Tara said. "'My vote doesn't count' is a constant refrain, and they just can't see how they're wrong." She hopes that by reaching out to her local representatives for tickets to the biggest political event of the year, she can model the importance of civic engagement.
"Someday they will look back on it, and they will say, 'Gosh, we went with our mom to see the first woman president of the United States inaugurated.'" — Laurie Mitchell
For Jess Weiner, the CEO of a consulting firm that helps businesses create positive messaging for women and girls, booking tickets to D.C. for her and her husband was a way of feeling a little less helpless in the face of a "crazy election." She finally committed to making reservations last night — which triggered wave of relief. "As soon as we booked the flight, we were both just dancing around the living room so excited," Weiner said.
Watching Hillary Clinton take the oath of office, she explained, would be cathartic for her husband Felipe Lopez, who is Mexican-American, after he experienced a racist incident in which a driver threw a keychain at his car while screaming racial epithets shortly after Trump's campaign began.
"I want to share with him the experience of watching our country change in real time," she said.
For now at least, Weiner isn't letting herself worry about jinxing it — or imagining the "alternate universe" in which Trump is up at that podium instead. But if the unimaginable happens?
"I will mark up that hotel room and sell it to a Trump supporter for a profit and go give it to another viable candidate for women in leadership," she said.
Tara Mitchell believes the symbolic power of watching the first female president begin her service could inspire young girls, though she has realistic expectations for what a Clinton presidency might hold.
"I know it won't be an immediate change, just as the election of the first African-American president didn't 'fix' racism," Tara said. "But it will go a long way in moving the conversation and viewpoints in a positive direction."
If Trump wins, Tara still plans make the trip to spend time with her sister — and experience the flip side of history.
"Being able to watch Trump give his inaugural address in real life is still something," she said, "Even if it does make my skin crawl to hear him speak."
Either way, it'll be something to talk about 50 years from now.