Last time Anna was in Washington, D.C., she was about the size of a grapefruit. I was six months pregnant, it was the second week of January, the war in Iraq was not quite a year old, and we were preparing a move to New Jersey. Since Anna never got a chance to experience the nation’s capital outside of the womb, we thought the cherry blossom festival would be the perfect opportunity to show her the city where she was almost born.
After visiting some friends, we hit the hot spots. We explained to Anna that Washington is a city full of pink trees, white buildings, and myopic Republicans. We showed her the Capitol and explained to her that this was the Big House Where Republicans Make Bad Decisions. She was not impressed.
However, pink trees always impress. It was surprisingly cold in Washington. I remember jogging in shorts during the month of March back when we lived in D.C. On this visit, we couldn’t walk the Mall without bundling up in winter coats and scarves.
Because it was so cold, we spent more time indoors than I expected to. The Smithsonian museums are wonderful places to warm up and run into celebrities–Angelina Jolie happened to be in Washington that day and took Maddox and Pax to the National Air and Space Museum. I guess the girls were with Brad. Anna and Mike didn’t see Angie, but I did, and let me tell you, that woman is as rail-thin as the dinosaur bones in the Natural History Museum. We didn’t see Elliot Spitzer in Washington, but my guess is the former governor is swamped and too busy for leisure strolls beneath the cherry blossoms.
We didn’t get a photo of Angelina Jolie, but we did capture Anna appreciating Monet, a wonderful mommy moment for me. Anna likes taking a sketchbook to art museums now. We may have a budding Picasso on our hands.
Mike and I lived in Seattle for three years, followed by three years in Washington, D.C. This past year, we had the opportunity to visit them both, and it surprises me to say I feel closer to Seattle than D.C. Washington is a beautiful, historic city brimming with Southern charm. There is nothing like strolling through Georgetown after brunch on a warm spring day. But the downside to D.C. is that it’s a city people pass through. Unless you’re a political pundit, you’re usually not in D.C. for long. Despite its new baseball team, Washington still lacks a sense of hometown pride that is in abundance in Seattle and that hits overkill levels in New York.
Still, Washington is a lovely place to walk, even if it’s your umpteenth time seeing the Lincoln Memorial or the Washington Monument. And inside those white buildings brews an indecisive friction. What I like about Washington is that you don’t necessarily have to be wealthy to make it. You just need an idea, crazy or not, and the drive to see it through. It’s a city of dreamers.