I was sitting on the ground trying to record what a minister was saying when I looked up and noticed the cameras to my left.
I had been surrounded by cameras after leaving the Supreme Court building Wednesday – minutes after hearing the justices read their opinions. The court had just ruled the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional and determined that it could not rule on California’s Proposition 8.
I saw journalists with tripods and same-sex marriage supporters with their cellphones. There was little room to move, and the heat of the day was only amplified in the crowd of people.
But it took me until my last few minutes outside the building for what I was doing to really sink in.
I’m going to be in someone’s home video of this moment, I thought. This is the kind of story you tell your grandkids.
So far in my nearly three weeks reporting in Washington, I have covered a couple of Senate hearings, a House hearing, a speech by civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and a press conference.
Covering Congress and these issues is exciting and important, but nothing compared to being at the Supreme Court on the last day of its term.
I had the advantage of knowing what cases would be ruled on for the last day, so I spent Tuesday reading briefs and trying to understand the numerous ways the court could rule.
After making dramatic changes to the Voting Rights Act on Tuesday, I was surprised to hear how the justices ruled on Wednesday.
Sitting in the so-called hallway seats near a window in the courtroom, I think I could hear the crowd cheering a few minutes after Justice Anthony M. Kennedy read the decision on DOMA. It never ceases to amaze me how much influence nine people can have on millions of lives.
With only about 400 people in the courtroom that morning, I know I was among the first to hear history.
After leaving the courtroom and picking up the printed copies of the opinions, I hurried outside to help fellow intern Deanna cover the reaction.
Spectators and media gathered around the lawyers, the couples who sued and other advocates for gay marriage. They were all excited, but added they had more work to do.
People were thanking the lawyers who were having a press conference.
On the ride back to the office, Deanna and I just kept looking at each other, in awe of what we had seen that morning. We just kept shaking our heads and saying “Wow.”
I remember telling Deanna that I wish we had pictures of us working to show we were there.
Thursday morning, our editor, Jody, showed us the morning’s Washington Post with a picture of me standing next to the minister. I found it in the slideshow and proudly sent the picture too my dad. (Picture No. 18: I’ve got the polka dot purse.)
I may never have the chance to cover the Supreme Court again, but I now put my short journalism career into two categories: before covering the Supreme Court and after.
It’s not my goal to go down in history. I just want to watch it unfold.