Friday, November 07, 2008

This week

The day after the election, I went into work a bit late.  Cars were going through my neighborhood without a thought about stop signs: not even a pause and straight through or even a left-hand turn without slowing down.  Three cars nearly collided when they arrived at an intersection simultaneously.  At the time, I thought they were all disappointed McCain voters, even though there are very few of them in the neighborhood, but maybe people were just tired. 

On the metro, it was almost as though nothing had happened: people incredibly quiet and polite, as usual. No one speaks.  People keeping to themselves with blank expressions on their faces.  Maybe the reality hadn't set it yet.  

I live in a suburban enclave that is mostly white, but I work downtown in the heart of an African-American majority city.  I don't, honestly, think a lot about race because the city is so multicultural downtown.  What's to think about?  We are each who we are.  But on Wednesday, that's what I thought about, involuntarily--it was strange and disorienting and weirdly beautiful that my brain was registering difference of all types: like a photographic negative flickering back and forth, a light show of gorgeous, distinct human faces.  A sense of calm has gradually settled across the city in the last few days, and deepened.  Not a calm after a storm kind of thing, a deeper kind of calm.  A calm that's been underneath turmoil for a while, a long time.  

And the Capitol looks more and more beautiful.  I catch it through the trees when I cross Mass Ave., and then I take a quick look down North Capitol Street when I cross it where North Capitol narrows on its final approach to the Capitol after its long descent from the rolling hills where the Veteran's Hospital is situated.  And I've been getting lunch on the New Jersey Ave side of the building more, where the view of the Capitol is more striking because it is so unexpected: the building huge, the slope of the gentle hill toward it more noticeable.  The Capitol amid hotels and Kogod's Deli and Georgetown Law School.  And when I leave work in the evening, it's dark, so the dome is lit up.

And mostly I am happy.  And I saw a soon-to-be-president actually answer questions at a press conference--what a novel thing!  And it seems we are about to be led by a couple of political power players who actually appear to care about their families and the feelings and aspirations of their wives.  Who see their wives as full partners.  Wow.  The press kept trying to pick at Rahm Emanuel for "dilly-dallying" about his decision while he considered the needs of his family (which was clearly regarded as some sort of trivial thing by the reporters--wives? families? you mean they're not chattel?).  It is a new day in Washington.

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