It was a little over a week ago that Julianna and I left our house in the “small hours of the morning,” as they say, and headed north to the nation’s capital.
To say that we went to Washington DC for dinner is about like saying I’m going to have ‘lunch at the Kremlin’… a bit pretentious and self-important. But in truth we were there to attend the National Italian American Foundation’s (NIAF) 34th Annual East Coast Gala dinner, held at the Washington Hilton in Dupont Circle.
We drove merrily up through North Carolina to the Virginia border, and then made our way to Petersburg, a small town outside of Richmond. Petersburg has only two distinctive points: it is the location of a National Battlefield and it is the birthplace of a tiny, sparkly, Charlotte resident.
From Petersburg, it was only another 2 hours to Washington. We were minding our own business, driving unconcernedly down a white highway (funny how the road color changes in different areas. Like they say, we’re ‘famous for our mud’ down here in the South…), when an extremely large building appeared on the right, and we realized with shock that it was the Pentagon. Right there. On the side of the road. Shaped…like a pentagon. (Five sides!) I had never seen it “in the flesh”… (if a building can have flesh) …only in pictures.
We found our hotel, to sum up a long and convoluted drive up and down Connecticut Avenue. Sidney Ellen Wade is not kidding about getting ‘stuck on Dupont Circle,’ let me tell you! That place is a nightmare, unless you enjoy driving in a pretzel shape. The Circle itself is not very large, but to drive all the way around it once is enough time to walk into a very busy Starbucks, wait in line, order two cappuccinos, pick them up, and then get back to the street corner where you started. We tested and proved this theory Sunday morning. <grin>
I had been told the Metro system in DC was easy. Easy is not the word I would have used to describe it… at least initally, but then I am small and somewhat sheltered, admittedly. Thanks to Julianna, my confident, street-smart sister, we managed to get from Dupont Circle to the main Metro center and from there to the Capitol South station, where the US Capitol building is located. We strode down the longest hallway I’ve ever seen, heels clicking on the marble floor, passing by doors naming representatives from around the country, feeling like the Men in Black. Think about it – Julianna and I are in fact the ‘best kept secret in the galaxy.’ We live in secret, we exist in shadow… and we dress in black. <grin> This is, understandably, not the best analogy… but it attempts to express complete self-possession within impressive surroundings.
We made a grand entrance into Representative Sue Myrick’s office at precisely 1pm and were greeted with surprise by my helpful friend, Robert Moore. Apparently most people are late or get lost around the capitol building. Which would have been easy… the place is a maze of corridors.
Basically the only note of interest about our tour Friday afternoon is that we were actually in the House Sub Basement! Or basement, I don’t remember which. But if you read Dan Brown’s new book The Lost Symbol, which I don’t (officially) recommend, you would recognize this location as where all the cool action happens! Obviously Dan himself had been on this tour… probably crawling around the floor of the rotunda measuring distances, lying on his back staring up at the ‘Apotheosis of Washington’ with binoculars, poking around dark corners where he wasn’t supposed to be… It almost inspired me to pull out a notebook and jot down notes for a suspenseful political murder mystery of my own.