Friday, June 17, 2011

Washington, D.C.: Center Of Light? Or, Is That Light Somewhere Else?

Washington, D.C. and Me (1961 -- 2011)

In 1961, a young idealist, married or not, did not arrive in the nation’s capitol expecting to deal with the dark side of human affairs. The world as we knew it, then, just didn’t work that way. For us Washington might as well have been the center of light.

Most of us were raised on the pledge of allegiance and the birthdays of Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays as special school occasions, designed for celebration.

Small wonder, then, that after my newly wedded husband and myself unpacked and settled into our first apartment dwelling, we were soon off to see the sites of Washington, D.C. and revel in the light it brought to our youthful minds.

Washington monuments offer tribute to our leaders of the past. Their gleaming white stone edifices giving testimony to the greatness of those shoulders upon which we, particularly the youth, build our visions of a brilliant future.

The awe I experienced when I visited the Lincoln Memorial that first night of being introduced to Washington, its brilliant marble structure bathed in a light that inspired the loftiest of my American democratic ideals, is still with me now. Should I wish to access it.

But the magic of Camelot is long gone. As is the aura of Jackie’s new, though short-lived, glamorous model for American womanhood (On this precise date, however, Mamie having only recently moved out of the White House, feminism was not yet quite “in”).

I, of course, had no notion of women’s status as I climbed those steps that first night in wonderment at the magnificent edifice built to honor Lincoln.

I knew only of the greatness of men, taking it wholly for granted. A personally limited perspective that would encounter a rude awakening in the year’s ahead in the nation’s capitol.

The Washington power game, masculine version, up against, the awakenings prompted by feminism, would, of course, give the words, male power and dominance and feminine submission, a multi-faceted sheen in the years to come.

Coming awake to these realities would all take awhile. But, of course, I would catch on over time.

That’s how one learns to survive.

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