Thanks, John, and How Tiny Washington Feels from Afar
Here's a raw and heartfelt thank you to the daily diarist of the national capital region, John Kelly, for so ably stepping in and making Raw Fisher the spot for his first try at this odd art. It's his Washington, and we're lucky to be able to peek inside every day in the Post to read John Kelly's take on what it's like to live here. He's of course welcome back here on the big blog anytime.
Meanwhile, your crochety host has returned from a glorious week in cold, wet, snowy Arizona. Do not for a moment believe a word you read about drought or extreme heat. We drove the length and breadth of the state and were in some form of driving rainstorm, wild snow or wacky ice conditions for almost the entire week--and of course we loved it bigtime. From watching the A's crush the Cubs in Phoenix on a very chilly, very wet afternoon to watching giant trucks slide off Interstate 17 on the big climb from the desert to the white-capped mountains around Flagstaff, and on to the very snowy Grand Canyon and the stunning vistas and icy cold winds of the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest, this was an almost preposterously big week--big rivers, bigger canyons, biggest sky. It all makes our little hills and scrawny skyline and cramped highways and tight streets seem unnaturally constricted, too taut, too narrow in the way we think and the way we live.
Washington is almost unimaginable from the great deserts and mesas of the West. While we chuckle here about how the rest of the nation misconceives the District and its suburbs, imagining us as an entire city of lobbyists and fat cat politicians, it's also true that those of us who live in the Bosnywash megalopolis too often forget that what we dismiss as Out There is so very far away not only in miles and politics, but in the pace and texture of daily life. We met people who find the structure of our lives to be nothing short of insane. They would never spend 12-14 hours a day working--for what possible reason? They've chosen to live in the mountains, out in the big spaces, expressly because they saw what it was like to spend three hours a day in the car getting to and from the office and they decided that was bizarre behavior. They don't see a hot tub as a strange and wonderful thing to do four times a year, but as a basic part of daily life, every bit as routine as we see driving the kids 20 minutes each way to a ballgame or a music lesson.
Sure, there's a suburban sameness to American life, from Surprise and Scottsdale to Springfield and Shirlington--the same dreary chainstores, the same unfortunate left-turn lanes, the same AM radio band (though theirs has Rush Limbaugh on nine, count em nine, stations, whereas we have him on but one spot on the dial.)
But if you look beyond the superficial, there is a qualitative difference between their lives and ours. In the car on the way to the airport to head home, we talked about those differences and we all agreed that we like our lives better--we prefer the bustle and the edge, the harsher art and the culture of argument that flourish in a big metro area. But we also agreed that the body and the mind need the occasional reminder of bigness and life that takes place at fewer bpm. We tuned into the Chill channel and it did its thing. Now, let's ratchet up the pace once more....
By Marc Fisher |
March 27, 2006; 6:40 AM ET
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