Thoughts and pictures from a short summer trip to Washington, DC.
I was in the capital in June. [I wrote this at the time but felt like I didn’t have anything all that insightful or interesting to say. Still feel that way really but am publishing it anyway as the pictures may be of interest to some people, so I’ll leave it unedited from this point on.] With all the museums and public buildings still closed from the lockdown I had ample chance to see the city itself. Washington is a beautiful city, practically an open air museum itself, and there is a lot to find yourself lost in. However, I found myself watching the people more than the monuments, statues, and landmarks. And people in DC seem on edge.
Washington, D.C. appears anxious. The atmosphere is tense with people who are socially distancing with their eyes as well as their bodies. D.C. isn’t the friendliest city to begin with but this visit seemed different, people were noticeably nervous around each other. Social distancing was pretty universally observed but it was commonplace for people to not only veer six feet away when passing each other on the street but also to look away from the person they’re walking by. The effect was pronounced by the fact that all we can see of each other is our eyes. It felt accusatory.
Walking and scootering around town I felt a near constant current of anxiety running through the sidewalks. Maybe I’d been cooped up in my rural hideaway for too long but the pavements were empty of people only to still be full of tension.
I was reluctant to stay in one place for too long. It was a hot week and I wanted to wear shorts but my tattoo could get me in trouble so I kept moving either to stay cool or keep from being noticed if I did wear shorts.
Thomas Brown is a history teacher and freelance writer. He runs The Swamp and is featured in Grunge, Quillette, Spiked, The Bipartisan Press, Human Events, among others. Follow him at his Medium page and argue with him on Twitter.
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