The White House looked lost in a late evening mist, as if a mere onlooker to the bleachers arising for the upcoming presidential inauguration. Off in the distance, early sounds of New Year’s revelry could be heard from the roof deck at the W Hotel, the buzzing crowd outside the Old Ebbitt Grill, and the movers and shakers heading to the Hay-Adams.
Yet there was no frolic near the White House. The roads that once permitted easy photography of the White House have long been closed by the Secret Service; those decades of physical barriers were now seemingly fused with other, more piercing barriers to our democracy.
The last time I sat in Lafayette Square in the mist, it was more joyous; a night of being a tour guide, revealing parts of Washington to visitors never expected. Now, as a brooding year coughed to a close, I pondered the new beginning in a country where Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delight” has morphed into Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.”
Lost in my thoughts, I paid scant attention to those walking around until I felt a sharp poke on my shoulder. Thinking it was one of the Park Police, I stiffened and prepared for the latest nonsensical command.
To my relative delight, it was my chum, the Old Geezer, looking vivid and energized, as if he had already said “Happy New Year” at a few stops before finding me on the bench.
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