This is a travelog of sorts. I’m on a trip to see my son and his family back in the D.C. area. Visiting Washington, D.C. is not the same as going to Chicago, Atlanta or Miami. All have their special places and mix of populations. But D.C. is based on an industry found no where else in our country. The job here is to build laws, influence laws, interpret laws, enforce laws and figure ways around laws. But I’m here just to see my son and his family of wife and grandsons. It’s been almost two years since I’ve seen them due to COVID, some badly timed sickness and plain old life.
It’s different here from home.
We live out on Oak Grove Road in Southeast Township of Orange County, Indiana. Phone was a Paoli prefix. Mail comes from Marengo. A short drive on unmarked roads puts us into Crawford or Washington counties. We are not in the middle of nowhere, but on Nowhere’s southern and eastern borders. We are Carhartt folk. Washington, D.C. is Brooks Brothers or Patagonia people.
I go to Paoli town and see people I know and like to know. Here, I go downtown into “the District” and see thousands of people I’ve never seen before and will never see again. I drive into town knowing every pending curve on highway 150. I ride the Metro Red Line with map in hand keeping track of stations. I am a fresh water fish in a salt water sea.
Where the heck am I anyhow? I am in Washington, D.C. my nation’s capitol, the governmental apex of democracy, the center of the Free World.
Right now, though, I am having lunch in the cafeteria of the Smithsonian National Museum of Air and Space (A&S). I am here by design and planning. I ordered my needed free tickets over a week ago. I walked over here after a too brief visit to the ticketless American History Museum. So far I’ve covered about a third of the A&S. I’ve seen the Wright Brothers plane, compared the size of a Boeing 747 to a DC-3, been to the moon and am now in the Mars Cafeteria in the basement. Here I traded a $20.00 bill for a bottle of water and a decent hot ham and cheese sandwich. Would’ve been about $7.98 at Lost River Market and Deli.
Where to sit? The A&S cafeteria has a Martian theme. I went over to a side wall covered with a detailed photo of a Martian plain. A good spot to eat and watch. Both of which I did well. I saw the world from my cafeteria table. Red and Yellow, Black and White — I expected that color wheel. But all the beautiful blending of tones bringing about shades of tints of hints as to the origins of my dining mates was a prize.
One family of mom and dad with a mid-teen daughter, and 12 and 9-year sons trooped from counter to a back table. The folks spoke fast Spanish. The daughter shook her pony tail and bangs and grumbled in unaccented English. The boys kept silent. Wisdom comes young to some.
I’m glad it’s warm outside so the browns, blacks and grays of winter are put away and the pastels, bright solids, floral prints and whites are set free. Lots of new tennis shoes. The Swoosh was everywhere. Blinding white soles and sides glowed. Chuck Taylor Converse in black still lives.
Just reading Tees took time. The two boys above were in disagreement about which team or sport was better or best. One had a Los Ticos #Uno (Cost Rican fútbol) while the other rooted for the Dallas Cowboys. Two LSU and one UConn NCAA shirts seen. Some Army camo and various Spring Break souvenirs worn.
And braids! How much time, how much finesse, how much inventiveness! Colors from deep black with tstrands of red, gold and green and many in between. I just got my scheduled six week shear last week so I’m up on hair style. Comb it forward, part on the left. Comb to the right, flip the front a bit and I’m done. Braids, though are beautiful.
Lots of clothing fashioned the runway from counter to chairs. Ripped jeans are still in so it seems. Religious beliefs were on display in my World View Cafeteria. Equally served at the counter were women in the full flow of the Muslim shawls and wrapping. Head scarves may be for religious couture but no reason not to involve comeliness with obedience. Seen also were Pentecostal long sleeves and skirts, non-denominational short shorts with ragged hems, and the boring plainness of us White and other guys of all races. Why is it only bird boys get the good colors? Unfair or for the best?
Interestingly just blocks away rancorous debate goes on in the Capitol building, Supreme Court chambers and a flapping Wing of the White House. But I saw no politically motivated Tees in the dining hall. Is the Air and Space café a badmouth free zone? Would that such neutrality could arise out of the A&S basement and spread out on the Mall from a seated Lincoln to sitting Judges, under the Dome and back to that House on Pennsylvania Ave.? If so, as Louis the Horn Blower once said, “What a wonderful world it would be.”
I swear on Dorothy’s Red Slippers I saw in the History Museum that I heard over a dozen languages between there, the Mars Lander upstairs and the Mars Café in the basement of the A&S where I am now. The way I see this world from the museum cafeteria gives me some
hope Mr. Armstrong is right. What a wonderful world it would be of all these cultural costumes and Babel of languages would eat together, learn together and, like Rodney King asked, “All get along?”
I finished my eating and gazing. Went back upstairs to learn about the expensive race to space between the U.S.A. and the Evil Empire of the USSR. There was also lots of stuff from Star Wars, blastings apart, loud noises and such. In the midst of all this visible and audible confusion I find it hard to
Keep the Faith — Do the Job — and — Ask for Help.
Onwards and upwards into the Air and Space above a hurting world.
A new thing. Thursday Thoughts are also posted on my Bob Turner Face Book page.
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