Saturday, April 4, 2009

Kaitlin and Emily do Washington, D.C.: 13 March 2009.

Our first stop on this fine cold day was the National Archives.

This was the first place we'd gone where we had to wait in line to get in.

We saw one of the earliest surviving versions of the Magna Carta.

All of the really exciting things were encased in this giant, dim room that we also had to wait in line for.

We got to see the Declaration of Independence (the "John Hancock" is just legible).

And the Constitution, with the "We the People" in all its glory.

Nearby was a display of documents related to the suffrage movement; Elizabeth Cady Stanton's signature is at the bottom of this note.

A video display played footage from home videos of the presidents. I found the toddler George Bush infinitely amusing.

We walked right by the FTC. We also walked right by places like the Department of Labor and the Department of Education, and I almost wanted to stop and take a picture by each one. I'd never really realized that all those places I read about in the newspaper are actual buildings where people work. To think that so many important things were happening inside of them and I was right there was just so exciting.

We explored the eastern wing of the National Gallery, where all of the contemporary and modern art is held. I was overjoyed to discover a Magritte. His surrealism fascinated me when I first encountered him in elementary school.

I don't remember who painted this, and it will bother me until I find it, but I just liked it. The picture's not much, but they really never are.

The visiting exhibition featured artifacts from Pompeii, which we weren't actually allowed to take pictures of. When we were in the west wing of the gallery the day before, I saw this prepossessing man speaking to another prepossessing man, and the security guard nearby came over and introduced himself to one of them. Intrigued, I asked the security guard who the man was, and he told me that he was the art critic for the Washington Post. He told me to go and talk to him, because a smile like mine could get me anywhere. I flashed him that smile and said I might, fully intending to keep walking. But the guard saw me inching away and called me over. I blanched and regretted my curiosity instantly but sucked it up and thought of something to say: "My friend and I are visiting and were wondering if there was anything in particular that we should look for." I told him that I was a lit major, and he said that was perfect for looking at art, because I understand how to enter a story. Paintings, he said, must be entered into and experienced. He told us the Pompeii exhibit was excellent, and when we went the next day, we discovered that it was.

The path between the east and west wings was an art installation in and of itself.

I don't know who did this, but I loved how objectivity slowly faded into obscureness.

There were quite a few Pollocks, and I sincerely enjoyed the effect that this one gave.

I recognized the Rothkos instantly. It's amazing how simple blocks of color can become iconic.

We rode the Metro back for the last time. These are the scarves we haggled for in Chinatown. The new way I learned to tie it was a souvenir in itself.

We spent one last night with my cousins and said good-bye Saturday morning. They were so incredibly hospitable! It was really all the people we stayed with who were the ones who made the trip so amazing.

Emily and I drove back to Virginia and found her a bridesmaid dress for her brother's wedding that afternoon, before she dropped me off at the Richmond airport. Emily is the other reason this trip was so amazing.

This is the weather I left. My flight was delayed by a couple of hours, so they transferred me to an earlier flight that was departing around when my original one was supposed to. My layover in Atlanta got cut a little short because of it, but I made it with a little time to spare. I pulled down the airport tray to continue the journaling that I had been working on for most of my flights, and the women seated beside me commented on my handwriting. A flight attendant on the last plane had done the same, and a couple of guys across the aisle would say something too later on. It was a little weird. The women began asking me about myself, so I quickly gave them the Cotton Mather spiel and that satisfied them for the rest of the flight. One asked me my full name, because "I'm going to see it in print one day." Right.

We landed in San Diego about an hour late, and as I was sitting outside the airport waiting for my roommate, I realized that I was actually warm. It was midnight and it was 59 degrees and I was so glad to be home.