I just listened to Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. He talked a lot about his years at Howard University, or, as he called it, "the Mecca."
He talked about living in D.C. About hanging out in U Street, about the police brutality in neighboring PG County.
His descriptions of D.C. hit me so hard that tears filled my eyes in my car as I was driving. I only lived there for four months, but I miss it. I ache for it. I have missed every place I've ever lived when I left it, but I've never cried about it before.
In the last few years I realized that I am a city girl. As a child, I was endlessly anxious about one way streets and somehow getting lost and turning down a side street that suddenly became a dangerous part of town.
Now, though, cities fill me. I'm afraid to speak to people I don't know, but D.C. let me be near people. I didn't have to say anything, but I could watch them, overhear their conversations, sometimes feel my body pressed up against theirs on a crowded metro ride, interact with them through the courtesy of public life--of passing on the left on the escalator or holding the door open for someone behind you.
In D.C. there were people with skin of every hue. During the week, the metro was filled with white people surging in from the suburbs to go to work, but on the weekends, the cars were emptier and ridden by people with brown skin going to and from their weekend errands.
I saw people wearing multiple types of religious clothing and headwear that I wanted to know more about.
I saw things that puzzled me. There were never any middle aged women on the metro in the morning. When I got to work, the building was filled with them. How did they get there?
I saw things that awed me. More fathers than I could count taking their children to day care in the morning. The fathers. Alone, no mother in sight, taking part in the quotidian intimacy of morning and evening commutes with their children.
These people were more often than not dressed more formally than I saw anyone dress for work in Utah. No casual Fridays, just day after day of morning coffee and walking several blocks in high heels, to huge old buildings to do government. To talk and argue and submit the same data to multiple subgroups in Congress, having to reformat their reports for each one. Landscape! Portrait! Only to get home so late that they barely have time to eat and work out and watch one episode of a tv show before they have to go to bed so they can do it all again tomorrow.
When they lay down to bed, the constant sirens whizzing past them sang them a lullaby to sleep.
These people did government on a daily basis. Sometimes just steps away from museums filled with the best art and history that our country has had the pleasure of having. People came on vacation to see these things. They came on vacation to a city that was mine, and I always forgot that until I was walking in the surprisingly warm winter air on a Friday afternoon and I saw groups of them, not fully sure they were walking in the right direction, but taking in the awe of it all.
As a child, I went on field trips to D.C. and I was one of those people. I regret that on my eighth grade field trip, I was more interested in the cute boys from a different school in line in front of us than I was about seeing Ford's Theater.
Now, though, I relished any time I could steal away to the Lincoln Memorial. It's not really close to any metro stops, so it takes a while to get there. And once you're there, you have to give it the time it is due. To go in, find a way to ignore the crowds, and say hi to your best friend. To talk quietly to him in your mind. To enjoy that sacred feeling of being inside of a type of temple.
Then, you go out and sit on the steps, and stare out at the city. The reflecting pool, the Washington Monument, the Capitol. You feel the confidence of Lincoln behind you and the beauty and the fragility of the American dream in front of you.
I think Washington, D.C. and I are made of the same things.
When I was young, I said, "No apartments. Ever." The thought of sharing a wall with a stranger was odious. To be able to hear their every move, and not be able to run into some back room and get away from it all--unthinkable.
Do you know what God said in the Garden of Eden, though? "It is not good that the man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18).
I think that means a million things. One of the things I think it means is that we should all live in apartments.
Lately, I've been driving around and it seems like every empty space is being filled up with with big, clean houses with big yards. It seems terribly excessive. Row on row of duplicate kitchens and sitting rooms. We could all sit together. We could all eat together. Instead, we need a lot of grass between us--grass that we hardly ever walk or sit on. Grass that we're a slave to cutting every week of the summer.
When you live in an apartment, you can hear people walking above you. You can hear them talking. You know when they turn the water on. And as you lay in bed at night, you know someone is near. You breathe in humanity and you breathe it out for them to breathe in.
It is not good that the man should be alone. We should all live in tiny places one on top of another. We should always have to parallel park our cars between two strangers. We should all live in great old houses that have been home to dozens before us, so we will have their ghosts to keep us company.
I couldn't help but notice that Rory Gilmore's boyfriends follow a pattern eerily similar to Sabrina Spellman's.
First, Dean plays the role of "the Harvey."
The cute, wholesome, first love, making high school magical since 1996. They get together surprisingly easily and stay together virtually without a hitch. Until...
Second, Jess plays the role of "the Josh."
Better looking, perhaps, and more intellectual. Sparks curiosity in our young heroine, as she would have something with him that she doesn't have with "the Harvey." They flirt inappropriately, kiss, then have to wait a while to be together.
And finally, Logan plays the role of "the Aaron."
The choice for our heroine once she has grown up. Tbh, why does it even come to this?
Here, our comparison ends, because *spoilers* Sabrina ends up with her One True Love Harvey, and Rory ends up the worst human being on the planet (unless we strike out the Revival, and she ends up a cool young journalist following around Barack Obama). And also Harvey is 1000x better than Dean, because he's friends with a talking cat. Also, for many, many other reasons. But I don't think you need me to spell those out.