Washington Monument

The city belongs to the two of us

Jamison KoehlerMiscellaneous

In the morning I ride my bike from our rented townhouse on Capitol Hill to the Washington Mall.  

Setting out normally around 5:00 am, I ride past the Supreme Court and the Capitol Building to the Washington Monument and to the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial.  Turning left, I cross Independence Avenue to the MLK and FDR Memorials, with the Jefferson on my left.  Heading south on Hains Point, I can see the Ft. McNair officer’s club where my wife and I were married.  Airplanes take off from National Airport across the water to my right.  

It is amazing how unprotected the monuments are in this era of ultra-tight security, the landmarks so exposed, so vulnerable.  Apart from a single police officer at the entrance of the Capitol Building and a stray jogger or two, the grounds are almost completely deserted.  It is as though the entire city belongs only to me.   

My wife and I now live two blocks from our first home together, an English basement apartment by Eastern Market.  Walking past the house this past week, our daughter warns our sons to avoid the nostalgia tour we had just subjected her to. 

But it is hard not to feel nostalgic.

Thirty-five years ago, my wife would take a break from her law school studies to join me in the tiny bedroom of our apartment to watch a half hour of TV before bed.  The world seemed so big back then; our concerns in retrospect so small.  We have had successful careers.  We have remained true to each other.  We have educated and brought three human beings to adulthood, all three of whom joined us again for Christmas before setting out for their own New Year’s Eve celebrations — our daughter back to Spain and our sons in Philadelphia.  

Listening to my wife cleaning up the breakfast dishes downstairs, I realize exactly how much I miss the children:  The school functions and soccer games.  The energy.  The commotion.  The mess that was our life.