In Washington D.C., as we visited all the monuments and memorials and cemeteries, I came to understand that this is the Holy Spot of the US. The place where the shrines are. It's no coincidence that the structures are classic or neoclassic buildings that look like Roman and Greek temples or European cathedrals.
The United States of America was created as an ideal, a utopia. What is great about it, and the essence of the country, come from what wise and noble men THOUGHT UP. The ideals that many of the monuments expound are so noble, so pure. Martin Luther King's "dream," F.D. Roosevelt's "compassion," Jefferson's "liberty." Washington's "freedom," Lincoln's "equality." The heart of America is not really in the heart but in the mind and maybe this is what creates the huge rifts between ideas and reality. (I think of race riots, the internment of the Japanese Americans, the abuse of farm workers...)
I thought of Japan and how I could "feel" the identity of the country at Ise. Japan was not created by man. Not the way the US was. It evolved, through prehistoric times, shifting, changing, morphing. Ideals also changed with the times, but the heart, the core, is something that one can barely describe in words. It is in some mythical past. I think European nations and other ancient civilizations share this, though many were conquered by other powers, morphing the "heart" even more.
But DC is more than just a Holy Spot for America. It's a vibrant, happening Capital with a capital C. People are friendly without being sloppy and unprofessional (which happens too often in California...) And there are many cool things. I made a short list:
Cool Thing about DC 1: Taxi cab drivers (and probably nail salon workers, grocery clerks, et al) all talk politics. Our driver was also well versed in what was going on -- much more than I!!
Cool Thing about DC 2: Pedicabs! Rickshaws are not only for the third world anymore! And how green can you be? Human powered taxis, yay! Every city should have them.
Cool Thing About DC 3: Foxen! In the woods near the Korean War Memorial, there was a mama fox and 3 suckling fox cubs. Awwww. And they don't give any mind to the small crowd of tourists with cameras. That such wild animals live in this very urban (albeit park) environment is soooo coool!
Cool Thing about DC 4: Beautiful black people! (I know that the politically correct term is African American but for me, it is not at all correct because many are Carribean American, or not American at all, so please do not get offended when I talk about "black people.") I could not believe how many really stunning black professionals there were in DC. Every other person looks like Denzel Washington or Angela Bassett. Or whoever. If you are a young, good looking black person seeking the same, this is the place for you! They are well dressed, well poised, well coiffed...
Cool Thing about DC 5: The Botanical Garden/Conservatory. WOW WOW WOW. A beautiful glass-encased building with separate zones -- "jungle" "desert" "rare and endangered" "medicinal" "southern exposure" etc. -- and they have lectures etc. It was quite awesome, even though it wasn't that big of a place.
Cool Thing about DC 6: A small square patch of grass surrounding a tree -- you know, those plantings on sidewalks -- with a duck mom sitting on some eggs. She created her nest here, in the middle of downtown, a few feet away from our hotel entrance. People leave water and some food for her and she seems pretty happy there. Crazy and cool.
Labels: Life in America, on-the-road, Washington DC