I like walking around Washington DC. There are places you can’t walk, guards keep you off the grass and there are t-shirts you can buy that say, “Keep off the grass.”
You can’t get anywhere near the White House. I remember when could get pretty good pictures but no more. The Reflecting Pool is pretty thick with green water and the geese and ducks around keep it murky. DC is built on a swamp so the whole city is rife with mosquitoes. I like walking to the White House and then to the World War II Memorial which is all fountain and concrete, past the Reflecting pool where I watch the benches for George Clooney but never see him. I always think of Burn After Reading when I go by there and then up to the Lincoln Memorial. If you don’t know where the Martin Luther King Memorial is you are never going to find it. It’s a small room in the basement with no signage. This has always bothered me and I always go and find it and walk around and wish that his voice could resound through the monument and that it were bigger and easier to find.
Then I go to the Vietnam Memorial and run my hands along it. If I have time in Washington, I go to the National Art Gallery but I don’t think I will try to this trip. I like the Tabard Inn where I’m staying and while here I’m reading Tender is the Night which reminds me of the terrible music I listened to the whole summer when I read through Fitzgerald. It was mostly Jackson Browne and I planned what was going to be a long romantic life complete with lilies. Everywhere I have lived there have been lilies. Calla lilies and canna lilies and that is simply ridiculous because lilies don’t make anyone’s life romantic, you do. You make love and romance with your hands and your heart. You can also un-make them and that’s the sad part of Tender is the Night. You can always see couples leaning in close at the bar of the Tabard Inn which is like something out of some old world. My room has a little quilt at the end of the bed. Quilts are unknown in the So Cal. We have powdery comforters and Mexican rugs on our tile and hardwood floors and the sun pours through our windows and you can see everything. In So Cal, there are no basements, no attics; there is nowhere to hide. I’m not sure if life is actually more complicated as we get older or if we make it more complicated. I asked Amy Stolls’ son Eli what grade he was going into. “It doesn’t matter,” he said making a sort of “over” sign with his five year old hands. “I’m not going to school any more. I’m done.” Simple.
When I was in college, one thing was important, keeping my party on. In Mexico, at the Grand Canyon and clubbing night after night, I worked out poetry in my head to the tune of “We build this city.” My boyfriend was a very good dancer. That was enough.
It is more complicated now. We built this city on stories and dreams. Now what?
Tonight I’m going to dinner with Christian Teresi and his girlfriend at Boqueria. That’s the best part of the literary life—getting to know smart interesting people who, like me, are rocking the free world.