By Memet Walker
In my second weekend in Washington, I went to a theater and saw a movie alone.
I know what you’re thinking: “What kind of loser sees a movie by himself?”
And, honestly? Not appropriate. Trying to do a serious introspective blog here, guys.
From the moment I met me at the door, I felt like I had known myself my entire life. I picked up the tab, opened my door and put my arm around my shoulder when I got scared.
“World War Z” was sold out, so I bought a ticket to “Monsters University.” My favorite part was when Sulley and Mike become best friends. My least favorite part was when security asked me to leave because I was creeping out the other families with kids. (Just kidding.)
But in my time spent alone, I learned a very valuable life lesson: When you’re not distracted by your own, closed social circles, you pay closer attention to the short, magical little moments happening all around you – moments that you might have missed, absorbed in the comfort of your own friends.
OK, I’m grasping for straws here (bawling as I type this), but it’s the truth!
As much as I like the other interns, the most memorable moments that have happened to me so far this summer have all happened when I was off on my own.
Take, for example, an earlier incident, visiting Ford’s Theatre, where Lincoln was shot.
Down in the basement, behind glass, they have the gun John Wilkes Booth used to assassinate the president. It seemed a macabre sort of memorial to a madman, until a moment with an obnoxious tourist made me realize Booth’s legacy here had become almost a cosmic joke.
“Stand next to the gun, kids!” an excited, fanny-packed woman said to her daughters, lifting her camera.
The girls, no older than 6 and 8, stood next to the gun with the appropriate level of discomfort and boredom on their faces.
“Ugh! You kids look so depressed!” the mom said, giving up.
“How are we supposed to look, happy?” one of them said.
“Can we get ice-cream now?” the other said.
Sic semper tyrannis, indeed.
But nothing baffles me more than people who take pictures of, not the artifacts, but the plaques in museums. Like, these people know most of history is available online these days, right?
And who are the poor people who have to see these photos when these guys get home?
“How was your trip, Bill? Did you see the sights?”
“No, but I did read some amazing plaques. Honey! Where’s the projector?”
“I should probably… get going … forever. ”
I also went – alone – inside the Supreme Court for a story.
The Supreme Court: One of those fabled, historic places that, since there aren’t cameras allowed inside, only few will ever get to see, and even fewer will ever get to report from.
Growing up, the place had a certain mystical quality to me. Like one of those things you know must exist, even though no one you know has ever actually seen it – like Area 51, or me working.
But there I was, face to face with the most powerful court in the country. Sonia Sotomayor and I actually had eye contact. I thought the winking was inappropriate. (Just kidding, again.)
And remember those “little moments” I mentioned? Here was another one of my favorites.
In the press section of the court, a stunning blonde reporting intern was seated in the very front. After she opened her mouth to speak, I had to write down the following quote, because I knew it was something special I would never want to forget.
“I was watching a documentary on Gandhi yesterday,” she said. “It was actually really sad. Did you guys know he was murdered?!”
Don’t worry, there was a happy ending to her story.
“But then I watched a few episodes of ‘Arrested Development’ and felt much better.”
The only thing more painful than hearing it was realizing – as I sat from the back with a restricted view, arms folded and pouting while every sweaty, grey-haired reporter ogled at her incredible story with intense interest – there is no way I’ll have a better job than her in five years.
On the Metro station ride back to the office, rushing back to write the story that the court had – in a landmark decision I was witness to – struck down a major part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Going over my notes, reflecting on how far we’ve actually come as a nation, I heard an argument starting on the train: a black woman calling an old man “dumb white cracker” when he refused to give her money.
Yes, it was the best of times, it was the worst times. It was, already, a summer to remember.