The beat of the city arrives…
Ambulance sirens race down the street.
The pitter-patter, clomp-clomp of busy and important steps hitting the pavement.
Street musicians showcase their talents, providing a harmony for the chaos.
-Luke A. Bunker
I was compelled to write the above poem after exiting the Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro Station, hyper-sensitive to the sights and sounds around me. There was a slight chill to the air, with sirens racing down the street and an older male musician pounding away at his keyboard as if it was his true calling in life. As I alluded to in a previous post, I hopped on the Metro last Friday morning with no set itinerary for the day (perhaps the aforementioned hypersensitivity was due to a mind not clogged by schedules and “things to do”?), save for lunch with my aunt on the Hill sometime in the afternoon. Aside from that, the day was mine, and I knew about halfway through my Metro ride where I would begin.
When I was last in D.C. in August 2013, my cousin and I spent a morning similar to how I spent it last Friday – exit GWU Metro and make the short walk to Baked & Wired in Georgetown while admiring the beautiful homes and architecture. Although the activities were similar, the journey was different. As I settled in with my ham & gruyere quiche and iced mocha, I reflected on the pages of my Moleskine of how taking a different path with a receptive mind left me further open to experiencing the truth of life in Washington, D.C.
For, you see, on this particular morning, I took a perhaps less glamorous journey to Georgetown. Instead of walking Pennsylvania, I took K and the Whitehurst Freeway. I say less glamorous because it was on this walk where it struck me that there is absolutely nothing romantic about homelessness. I don’t know if “romantic” is the right word, but when you can see (and, in reality, smell) the situation, you realize that it’s a real problem – not always a choice for those people – and one that we prefer to ignore than do anything about.
As I picked “pesky” down feathers from my $200 jacket while toting around $1000 in camera equipment and preparing to spend $10 on coffee and a small slice of quiche, having traveled via air to a city for the sole purpose of visiting a travel show, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel even just a twinge of guilt. But, at the same time as I saw the inequities of society (how had these people gotten to this place? what events had transpired in their lives where a shopping cart full of cans, no showers for days or weeks, and despair evident on their faces, was the life these people now led?), the presence of blessings in my own life became abundantly clear. Sometimes it takes seeing this aspect of humanity – one that is largely ignored and is surrounded by a gargantuan taboo – to realize gratitude for how well a person does, indeed, have it.
With this newfound perspective fresh in my mind, I posted my poem on the Baked Wall (a wall where patrons’ doodles, writings and thoughts are drawn onto napkins and taped) and set out on a photo journey with my Hipstamatic and architecture, along with capturing a not-often-seen Washington, in my sights.
Stay tuned for more from my recent trip to Washington, D.C., including more pictures from my first day of the Capitol and Supreme Court buildings, as well as my fun museum mix-up!