Friday, April 02, 2010

Return of the Tourist

“Light the first light of evening, as in a room
In which we rest and, for small reason, think
The world imagined is the ultimate good…
Out of this same light, out of the central mind,
We make a dwelling in the evening air,
In which being there together is enough.”
- Wallace Stevens, The final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour

I’m back in So Cal after about a week on the east coast. I arrived in time to see the cherry blossoms in bloom in Washington DC. Déjà vu, Momma.

Although I’ve lived here for most of my life, I grew up in suburban Washington. We used to walk around the reflecting basin at this time of year. We’d pass people with cameras, framing a shot that took in cherry blossom boughs overhead with the Jefferson Memorial in the background. According to a statistic I made up for this post, 93.8% of tourists with cameras take the same picture. As we passed them, we would smugly mutter, “Been done.” So my cliché-compliant pictures serve to remind me that I was a smartass once. I’m a much better person these days – much wiser, much more modest, and barely any older.

I spent a few nights with family, then a long day walking around the Mall, stopping in museums like the Freer Gallery where one sister’s inner goddess was revealed. I’m sure that’s never been done, because nobody else ever goofs off in museums. According to the results in an exhaustive a Pew Research Study of museum visitors I made up for this post, nobody else in the history of the Freer Gallery has ever taken this shot.

I dumbly wore new shoes for the trek around the Mall, from the Capitol Botanic Gardens where there was an amazing orchid show, to the Smithsonian, riding Metro, and limping to the “historic” Williard Hotel for cocktails. I’d forgotten how everything that stands still for more than ten minutes in Washington DC ends up with a brass plaque memorializing famous historical events. One sign said “On this spot in 1766, British forces clashed with rebel militia, who, upon realizing they were outnumbered 7 to 1, heroically handled the battle the way a dog handles stress: since they couldn’t win, eat the British, or roll around on the ground and tickle then, they pissed on the brick below this plaque and walked safely away.” Ok, I made that up too. But I sure enjoyed the cocktail hour seated in a nook in the lobby, watching the beautiful people without blisters on their feet stroll importantly to and fro.


Esther Montgomery said...

I remember reading your post about the reflections of cherry trees last year and have felt guilty ever since because I know that kind of smug feeling, where one has done something and seen others do it and thinks they are silly to do it again. I'm like that. But, later, I thought how, for each of the people taking the photo, it is the first time, possibly it will be the only time, they have seen and done it.

The top photo is wonderful. It looks as if the building is floating on a froth of blossom.

I like your goddess photo too. I'll be copying that idea in a museum if ever I have the chance!


Les said...

The best statistics and historical events are made up ones.