Late on arrival, we followed our hunger to a little Belgian restaurant dressed in red velvet, joining the line that ran from the door through the length of the room. We stared at the people already eating and shouted the thoughts: hurry, hurry, hurry. Each one of us ordered moules et frites and vases of beer. For dessert, we ate cakes dressed like those Greek temples Dan Brown claimed had been built by the Masons and deciphered the sugar code inscriptions on our frothy coffee drinks. In the morning, we danced across the street to brunch in a checkerboard restaurant, elbow to elbow, with freshly squeezed orange juice, local talk, and a menu written in verbatim.
In the sunlight of the agora, people climbed the branches of cherry blossoms and drowned themselves in flowers. Others sun-soaked the heat from the sides of the Washington Monument. The National Museum housed queues of tourists with every behavior imaginable on display. Like spies, we found a $2 Mission: “Small acts of kindness go a long long way, so keep the ball rolling with a kind act today!” We carried that obligation in our hearts until we were burdened by the choice of doing the right thing. We returned the money to its place of origin, for someone more worthy than us.
Sunday at the Cathedral, the masses admitted after the mass: up high, a stained-glass window broken with a moon rock; and below, chairs sized for children. We floated up 1,000 steps and took turns kissing a gargoyle: Me, for the gift of rhetoric; him, for the gift of obfuscation. Got a kink in the neck trying to find the Darth Vader grotesque. When the sun clouded over, we went into the dark dark woods around Washington with our baskets to find the Fabergé eggs rumored to be hidden there by the dressers of the Lincoln Theatre. We emerged from the river, out of state, and climbed the crumbling streets of Alexandria, the cobblestones of history, finding a way to the ocean before the storm.