As I follow the inauguration via live webcast, I can't help wishing I were there. My sister is; some coworkers are. Some other friends as well.

So many of my acquaintenances said they'd never want to go. Too cold. Too many in the crowd. To much wear and tear on feet and backs. Yet, I can't help thinking that we've cheated ourselves of a rare and wondrous opportunity to seep ourselves in history and hope.

My previous face-to-face encounters with my neighbors  have always left me richer, more connected, and somehow more American. New York for the nation's 200th birthday, Key West for the Fourth of July, Delray Beach for St. Patrick's Day. Sure, the feet may be stepped on, the elbows jostled. And the heart swelled -- though as  I grow older, more sophisticated, dare I admit it?

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    Jane Wooldridge is the Miami Herald's award-winning travel editor and a genuine travel fanatic. Between her business and person…

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