We spent last week on vacation in DC, but my enthusiasm for writing up a travelogue got swamped by the need to catch up at work. However, I will try to hit the highlights.
Places we visited: Newseum, Air and Space Museum, American History Museum, Arlington National Cemetery, Supreme Court, Library of Congress (M only), Natural History Museum (M only), Botanic Gardens (S and E only), Cathedral of St. Matthew (S and E only), and Gettysburg. You can tell we took a divide-and-conquer approach based on who was interested in what. We didn’t bother visiting all the monuments on the Mall because we did that last year when we were down for a whirlwind college visit, and the weather this year (95 degrees and very humid) was not conducive to even more miles of walking. We also had dinner one evening with my childhood best friend and her son; it’s been 5 or 6 years since we saw each other’s children, so that was great.
Funniest moment: one evening, while M was browsing in a bookstore near the place we were staying, E and I wandered into the local Apple store so I could try out smartphones. E fended off assistance from the sales person by saying we were just looking and it was a slow process for me to plan to get a smartphone, but when I added, “I still have a flip-phone” the guy looked totally shocked and appalled. And then left us completely alone.
Most aggravating moment: the Newseum has a 9/11 exhibit that includes the top of one of the communications towers from the WTC. There were many school groups in the museum that day, mostly middle-school or early high-school age. And the kids were joking around in the exhibit, taking selfies, and writing silly comments on a computerized interface to leave comments about 9/11 memories. Intellectually, I know that none of the kids is old enough to remember 9/11, or to have felt first-hand how shocking that whole day was, and how much it changed Americans’ view of our world. And I know that groups of teens sink to the lowest common denominator; if any of the kids had been there with family instead of dozens of classmates, they’d probably have been a lot more serious. But E and I still felt both irked and old, to see them being so thoughtless about an exhibit and event that held so much emotion for all the adults.
Most personally meaningful moment: visiting the Supreme Court. This is the court that granted federal recognition to our marriage 2 years ago, and so it seemed really fitting to take a family picture out front, and have M take a picture of E and me. We hope this same court will bring nationwide recognition of gay marriages within in the next few days.
Most confrontational moment: we deliberately visited the Supreme Court on a day decisions were being handed down, in order to see (from outside the court) what the festivities looked like. Even though everyone knew it was 99.9% unlikely that any major cases, including the marriage case, would come out that day, there was still a large news media contingent, and a couple people with signs declaring that “God says marriage = 1 man + 1 woman.” Why they think their God’s opinion is relevant to the Supreme Court of a nation founded on the separation of church and state, they didn’t attempt to fit on the signs.
We appeared to be the token gay or lesbian people present, so we had fun kissing or holding hands whenever the bigots glared at us. But since it was a little too hot for much physical contact, E started just showing off her wedding ring whenever they glared at us, and that seemed to go over equally effectively. Any resemblance to giving someone the finger is, of course, entirely coincidental.