Friday, August 28, 2009

Chapter 17

Fucking humid again. I haven't quite adapted to the weather on the East Coast, but it's awful. The West Coast spoils a person, it stays hot but dry, yet the people on the East Coast are a bit more flesh and blood to me. There's something stronger about them. If it has something to do with the elements it would make sense, because here people don't float as easy as they do where I live. The downside to that is there's a hardness I've noticed in certain strangers, but when you're away from your city you notice strangers easier. I hadn't been to Washington DC because it never crossed my mind in the last 20 years of driving and working. I was having breakfast on 36th in Baltimore and it occurred to me that DC was the only main place in the states that I hadn't seen. Jules was off from her shift at the ER and we drove into New Carrollton, where we took the train into DC, and get out around one in the afternoon. Right when you walk up from the subway, you hit the sidewalk and see DC. I wanted to be swept up and shocked by a wave of begrudging patriotism, but I wasn't. The architecture is beautiful, though, and the city is certainly beautiful. I wonder how many times a day your photograph is taken here. It's not only humid, but it's hot and like a fucking idiot, I wear jeans and a black shirt. Jules is pointing out which directions are what, what we pass to get to this place, this museum, that museum. I think if the place was less crowded, I'd have a better time with it. Jules tells me that this is a slow day in DC. I look around at the families and the foreigners, and they are excited to be here. I'm also excited to be here, but I'm mostly excited that it maybe completes my checklist of America, if I had one.

Not to say here that it's not breath taking to see the nation's capitol. It is. It's one of the most impressive things I've seen that's been made by man. The history of centuries is here, in the air, the soil. It's a proud scene if you see it from where I see it. I have a special bond with this country because I chose it as a home, literally, the road and the cities and towns are where I grew up. And in the process, I had to avoid the fucking hippies, avoid any type of typecast a traveler gets: nomad, gypsy, "on the road" -all of that bullshit.

Thing is, in a place like America, you can fucking do ANYTHING. You can lose and be comfortable, you can win and be comfortable. You can tell your boss to fuck off if you choose to do so. You can succeed by merely being attractive, with no talent. If you simply know someone, you can make it. Hell, if you have enough money you can even get away with murder or beat a fatal disease. There is mercy and no mercy, there is a ton of corruption and special interest, and millions of people stupid enough to spend money on shitty music or bad television. That being said, I'm all for this country. I could be a cynical writer spouting off about how fucked up the system is, how bad the poor get it up the ass and so on, but walking around DC I think about how a black dude sits in office and I laugh because it still blows me away, even now. I remark to Jules about how if he hadn't of won, I'd be really fucking embarrassed. But mostly I'm for this country because anyone, and I mean anyone, can make it well here, and too many people focus on what's wrong with the scene, and too many people beat themselves down when others elsewhere wipe their asses with their hands and live in dirt fields.

We leave the Lincoln Monument and see the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, and then we're sitting on a ledge facing the Washington Monument. We've just spent three dollars on water. It's like an outdoor movie theater, these prices. I stare across the field at the White House. I'm sweating like a whore in church. We walk DC and I shoot photos and look at the statues and columns and design and history and gawk at the place like everyone else.

We're in the National Archives Museum and I'm staring at The Magna Carta. It's the first thing to really hit me in the gut since I've been here. This was written in the 13th century. The Constitution and the Declaration Of Independence were one thing, but here sits the Magna Carta. I'm eyelocked on the document. Jules and I are looking at the print, the beauty of it, and then we're walking toward the Capitol Building. Jules and I are talking about her family, her job as a doctor. I try to imagine having a job like that. We pass some tour group
and she says, "On Book Meets Road, why did you mention the boring stories about the ER?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Well, I mean the flashlight up the guy's ass was alright, but you didn't mention the guy who cut off his penis. Twice. Remember that story? He cut if off again after it was sewn back on."
"Now I remember. Goddamnit. I'll mention it for chapter 17. I promise."
She laughs, "Good."
A guy coasts past us on a cheap mountain bike with a cooler hanging off it. He does a small skid and looks at us, "Y'all want some ice cold water?"
I looked at the cooler, "How much?"
"Two dollars."
"Fuck it. We'll take one."

I give Jules the first hit. She drinks, hands it over and I slam half of it. I've been eating terribly on the road. The water hits my system like freezing rain. We walk, stop, cool off, walk into a museum, walk up to the Capitol Building, walk into more museums, the Sculpture Gardens. I can't stop staring off at the skylines. It's time for me to leave this part of the country, that old feeling of economy sinks in. Not financially, but the economy of motion, of time. The sun is finally setting and our skin is red. My knee is talking back from an injury well over a year old. We're walking back to toward the subway. We've walked 4 or 5 miles, according to Jules. I argue 10 miles and she laughs at me. We make a stop into the Air And Space Museum and I touch a piece of the moon.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Right on, man. Were there any whacked out protesters in front of the Bi-Racial House?