30 March 2009

Before I Forget

Being in DC was personally pleasant, even if the weather was colder than normal. I enjoyed it because it was my original home town. I was born right outside it, Takoma Park to be specific, and lived in the DC metro area until age 9. Even when we moved to Baltimore I went back now and then.

My early morning walks on Wednesday and Thursday were excursions into my past, seeing parts of downtown that I saw as a little boy, a youth, and thus suffused with nostalgia. The city has changed dramatically of course. But not so much that I can recognize its basic bone structure. Like someone growing old, you can still see the youth it was through the accumulated changes.

Mostly this was through things like the faint smell of dogwoods and yew that are coming back to life at this time of year. The soil there has its own aroma. The older buildings also had their familiar scale and form, howbeit crowded by new and larger buildings.

What came back in a storm was the sense of being "somewhere," in a place I knew even as a boy was where things happened. Embassies and agencies and monuments all told me DC was a town that mattered to more than its residents. The world came there, still does, and so to be there is to be at a global crossroads.

That's what I loved about NYC as well, and now I realize why it fed me - I felt there as I did in DC. Of course, DC has the added allure of being where I was young, where I glimpsed president Eisenhower at Arlington national Cemetery one Memorial Day and marveled at the robotic and sunglassed soldier do duty in front of the Tomb of the Unknown, saw the unlikely president Kennedy ride down Pennsylvania Avenue at his inaugural, visited my senator's office and the gallery just for fun, and of course play amongst the quaint displays of the Smithsonian.

It was good to go back like that, and I look forward to doing it again.

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