When we told people we were going to Washington DC, the most common response we received was, “Why?” I admit, it surprised me. In North America, we are constantly bombarded with images of the American capital. The Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument appear in movies we watch, in photos printed in our newspapers and on our TV news programs. They are as ubiquitous, as much a part of our daily lives, as images of our own capital city. To me, it seems only natural to want to see them in person. Apparently, this view is not as common as I thought.
We had other reasons for travelling to Washington DC, too. The first was entirely practical. Ian’s job comes with certain travel benefits, but those benefits changed significantly as of April first this year, so we wanted to take advantage of them one last time before the cutoff date. Washington DC was the nearest and easiest location to do that. And it had the mildest weather forecast for early March, which is important to us since we spend most of our time outside when we’re on holiday. (Of course, in reality, we arrived in DC amid a series of Nor’Easters. We missed most of the rain and snow, but the winds were phenomenally strong.)
The second was a bit more personal. In high school, I wrote a book. I wrote several, actually. But I wrote one that was apparently quite good – whereas the rest weren’t worth the paper I scribbled them on, in retrospect. At the behest of my creative writing teacher, a well known Canadian author, I submitted it to a contest sponsored by Scholastic Books. And I won the silver medal, although I found out so many months later that by then, I scarcely remembered that I had submitted an entry. The Scholastic Foundation awarded prizes at a ceremony in Washington DC, but the event coincided with both the invasion of Iraq and my diagnosis with chicken pox at age seventeen, so I wasn’t able to make the trip. I’ve never really regretted it, except that I missed visiting Washington DC. The city has been high on my travel list ever since.
(Scholastic never published the book. It disappointed me, at the time. Ultimately, though, I’m glad I wasn’t a published author at seventeen.)
There was so much in DC that I wanted to see, but if I’d only had the chance to see one thing, I would have chosen the Lincoln Memorial. There is no question about it. We were lucky to stay in a hotel straight up the street from the monument, so we walked there early on our first morning in DC – I was too excited to sleep in, of course. And what grandeur awaited us. All marble columns and bright white stairs, the magnitude of the memorial is a testament to the admiration that Lincoln’s countrymen felt for him. And still feel for him, if the number of visitors is anything to go by. In the early morning it was possible to greet Mr. Lincoln in relative tranquillity, but by 8:30 am, the crowd began to grow. I imagine that by ten o’clock, it was teeming with people.
The thrill of experiencing a place you have spent your life imagining is unlike anything else. I am still figuring out exactly how to describe it. It is the closest thing I can think of to walking into a beloved book and seeing the world your favourite characters inhabit come to life. There were so many incredible moments on our trip, but despite the freezing wind and the woman in the orange construction jacket who kept stepping into out photos, this might have been my favourite.
#shein #jonak #celine #paigedenim #massimodutti