Of the ornate

Six months in DC and I’m still working on checking places and activities off my list. This city has unending things to do: public buildings to visit, paved trails to walk, theaters to attend, bars to frequent, friends to meet.

Last week, I finally found my way over to tour the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court building, and the US Botanical Conservatory. These places are all close together (hence the combination one free day) and all close enough to where I’m interning that it’s justifiably surprising I hadn’t made it over yet just far enough of a walk that I wouldn’t have time to make it during a lunch break or after work.

The Library of Congress immediately moved to the top of my “places I recommend to visit in DC” list. The Thomas Jefferson building (the Library takes up a block of three buildings, but I think the TJ is the only one with public services) is quite possibly the most beautiful building I’ve ever been in. It’s just gorgeous. And a docent-led tour is a great way to learn some of the 200+ year history of the Library.

The Supreme Court building is also impressive. Not nearly as ornate as the Library. But there’s something very powerful about sitting in on a lecture (their tour equivalent) in the building’s only courtroom, facing the justices’ chairs (8 right now since Scalia’s chair was given to his family), knowing the impact of the words and decisions spoken in that space.

I can tell I’ve lived in DC for a while now when the most striking thing about my experience at the Botanical Conservatory is the lack of security. Funny how perspectives change to adjust to new norms. I’ve grown so used to airport-like security when I enter any federal or institutional building, that I don’t flinch at walking through a metal detector and I’d never think to carry around nail clippers or a multi-tool in my messenger bag anymore. Anyway, the conservatory and outdoor garden themselves are nice. The serenity of being surrounded by plants and (albeit well-controlled) nature is something I’ve missed as a city resident. The CA poppies were a nice treat; making me long for Hites Cove and the hillsides above El Portal. The painting is a scene of Denali that I’m really looking forward to checking out in person at some point this summer.

Of the ornate

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