I have been there. I have seen the nation’s Capitol. I have walked the red, white, and blue pathways between trees and gardens and courtyards and hotdog stands and even more trees and tourists wearing tennis shoes and little dogs and bigger dogs and barricades and motorcades and esplanades and ice cream trucks.
I have sheltered myself from the hideous rays of the sun, cursed myself for wearing black skinny jeans and a grey shirt that shows sweat faster than I can produce it, and talked to my mom on the phone in the National Gallery after seeing masterpieces by Monet, Manet and other people that I can’t remember.
Yes, I have seen the glory. Yes, I have seen the power. Yes, I have seen stacks on stacks of marble buildings sandwiched between lawns that know no end. Yes, I have seen the irony in buildings dedicated to populations we have decimated and yes I have seen the waves of government workers in their slacks and white shirts and polished shoes going to do the will of a people that has forgotten to vote.
Seek, they say, and you shall find. Go, they say, and you will arrive. I tell you this, that I sought treasure and I have found it. I went to find destiny and I have found it.
In the courtyard in front of the U.S. Botanical Gardens there is a bounty beyond worth to a weary traveler, something so delectable and holy that only a few know about it or experience it.
It is cushioned lawn furniture, and it is heaven. This is not just a park bench. This is not merely a wooden chair. Nay, my friend. This is a park bench and a chair with a thick green cushion on it, free for anyone to sit and rest on for as long as they like and contemplate the likeness of President Garfield, who was assassinated not very far from the spot.
To one used to the concrete wastelands of San Francisco, the idea of a public, cushioned park bench is almost as loony as free coffee at a physical library. For this is not a world of free lunches, free back scratches, or free cushions. Unless, of course, they’ve already been paid for through taxes.
I wish I could comment on the brilliance of a Degas that I saw today, or perhaps the strange nature of travel and how it both brings you closer to people yet also distances you from them. Instead, I can only think – nay, I can only dream – of the lawn furniture at the U.S. Botanical Gardens. Such plushness. Such wonder. Such glory. Amen.