Observations from my weekly wanderings, usually in Northern Virginia (NOVA).
My writing prompt this week came from my current read: Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. I should confess I’m not a fan of Woolf, though to be fair I've only read one other of her works. It’s more precise to say I am not a fan of stream of consciousness – which seems to be Woolf’s preferred method of writing.
But she has her moments. There was a passage that I thought was lovely, in which the narrative describes Mrs. Dalloway’s love for London.
In people’s eyes, in the swing, tramp, and trudge; in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June.
And this is my prompt. I too love my city – Washington D.C. Truthfully, I live in Fredericksburg, about 40 miles south, and while I think Fredericksburg is quaint, I think D.C. is glorious and ghastly. I’ll try to explain, à la Woolf and stream of consciousness, which may be my one and only attempt at this style.
So many people, always so many. The tourists looking up, looking lost, looking excited, looking tired. The street performers ready to amuse for pocket change, the derelict not caring to amuse, only for pocket change. The ambitious, the stressed annoyed - inconvenienced by the tourists, oblivious to the performers, disgusted by the derelict. The police, what’re they? Not tourists. Not locals. From Springfield, McLean, Tyson’s, bedroom communities, guarding the city on the hill. The monuments, glorious monuments to what can be, what could be, what should be – what isn’t. But the ideal is – it still is. Graves of heroes, of unknown, their silent dangerous sentinel. The lesser monuments, the hidden ones, the tourists won’t see – Einstein hidden in the Elms, the Prophet of the Long Road, the Vietnam angels of mercy. Museums, luxury, motorcades, squalor, sirens, pigeons, the Potomac. Cherry Blossoms. Four corners: Lincoln, Jefferson, the White House, Capitol Hill, at the center Washington. Power, promise, progress, despair, deceit, decay - hope.
And oh to see it by night! When the sin and corruption cannot be seen. Only the white lights, on the white city, on the high hill - the beacon. The ideal.
© 2015 Joseph E. Fountain
© 2015 Joseph E. Fountain
Another piece I once wrote about D.C. (cuz writing it twice woulda been pointless.)