Tonight is the Third of July. The city's excitement for tomorrow's celebration is palpable, has been since Friday. Oh, wait, that's the coma-inducing humidity. Or maybe it's both.
Today I spent the whole morning in bed enjoying the AC and pounding down 200 pages of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol (that's right, I broke the snobbish Washingtonian code of not acknowledging that book's existence. I make up for it by noting with distaste its manifold mistakes. I tell ya, I laughed right out loud when they started talking about the CIA "descending" into the King Street Metro... which is in fact above ground. And how about when the characters gasp in awe at Robert Langdon's revelation that the painting on the Capitol Rotunda is called "The Apotheosis of Washington"? Every intern and tourist in the WORLD could tell you that!)
I went to church today, listened to a lot of America-monies, came home, bolted down a wee bit of food, then looked outside my window with my impatient roommate as the thunder BOOMED and the rain came down in a sudden, swift sheet. It lasted about 25 minutes... right into 6:30, when we were supposed to be leaving. I donned my rainboots and rainjacket, enlisted the aid of a big umbrella and blankie, and together Kelly and I set off into the ocean that was 21st Street to meet up with our ward friends. Together we had all planned to drive into the city and find a good spot on the West Lawn of the Capitol in order to watch the dress rehearsal of tomorrow's grand Fourth of July concert. The dress rehersal is a Washington secret event that you must attend at least once to be a native. You go sit amidst a haughty upperclass picnicking crowd, watch Josh Groban or Natasha Bedingfield squint out at some unknown director behind the stagelights who asks them to "Stand here, look there, now sing it again." You have a great time and realize how awesome (and awesomely entertaining) your nation is.
Unfortunately, the rainstorms that preceeded our drive today also wreaked havoc on the Hill. We drove by crowds streaming AWAY from the Mall (bad sign), then we drove by a massive tree branch half on top of a misfigured red Yaris, half in the right lane of Independence Ave. (Another bad sign).
Undeterred, perhaps emboldened by the discovery of an impossibly good parking spot right next to the Library of Congress, we unloaded our gear and marched down towards the Hill on the offchance that something would change. Shepharded down to the lawn by cool and detatched Capitol police, we arrived alongside the stage to see the reason so many people had been leaving: part of the outdoor stage had collapsed in the storm and the show had indeed been cancelled. Other parts of the lawn also showed recent scars. We decided to make merry in the cool evening air on the lawn next to the Botanical Garden, a ways off from the stage. We sat across from a crumpled metal detector station (the winds had tipped over some HUGE concrete pylons! What a storm!) Police stood, bored, everywhere.
We played games we learned from EFY, nibbled snickerdoodles, and amused the tourists (I think there were 20 of us?). We listened as they fired canons (at least the military is undeterred by storms), we watched a glorious sunset, and we packed up as low clouds rolled in with accompanying thunder, forty-five minutes after we had settled down. As we departed, Josh Groban (or perhaps a recording of Josh Groban) began to sing, filling the entire top half of the mall with his glorious, mellifluous sound.
I came home to even MORE friends who were sitting around an open ice cream carton. We discussed timely events such as the last SYTYCD episode and the act of hugging. Tomorrow I'm renting a bike, going to breakfast and a parade and probably much more. It'll be great. But tonight... tonight was grand. What a good day to be here, in this beautiful spot of land. Today I remembered I live in the heart of my nation.