9/11 is old enough to drink. 9/11 is an adult—if twenty-one is actually an adult. Sophie can’t rent a car until she’s twenty-five. Kids can stay on their parent’s medical insurance until they turn twenty-six. My own adolescence didn’t end until I turned thirty-three. So maybe not quite an adult yet, but yes, old enough to drink.
The other thing that happens in the first half of September is my wedding anniversary. Ours is old enough to rent a car. To celebrate, we thought we’d do something special this year. A year ago, we assumed that meant flying to Moab, Utah for a week of hiking in the desert. Have you noticed the crazy inflation this year? We spend all our money on groceries and gas, nothing left for a rental car, restaurants and a hotel. We went to the National Gallery of Art instead—only two hours away on a Saturday morning. We even parked for free.
Overheard by the women sitting next to us at Zorba’s Café later in the day: “Am I pedestrian because I like the impressionist paintings most?”
“Everyone likes the impressionist paintings the most.”
Monet, Van Gogh and Renoir, those painters appeal to me. Many other do as well, but if I’m thinking art, theirs are the paintings that pop into my head. Susan, reading an internet blurb on Monet: “Impressionist paintings became wildly popular in the second half of the twentieth century…” Hey, I’m from the second half of the twentieth century.
Really, it’s pretty cool that we can pop into DC and see these world-renowned paintings whenever we want.
God, What’s wrong with that guy, anyway?
While browsing paintings in an empty exhibition room, just Susan, me and a security guard, I walked into a sculpture pedestal. The guard, a classy looking older man, said “Uh, oh.” He then followed us room to room until we went up stairs to another floor.
When we left the museum, I bought a Coke and a cup of ice from a street vendor. Sitting on the grass we watched the runners. Susan reminded me that we used to run this stretch of park. I always made her run around the Capitol building because it’s the only hill in the area. Thirty years ago, I ran faster than the fastest runners we saw. Now I’m slower than the slowest. We vowed to come back for a jog.
Scooters are everywhere. I keep reading articles in the Washington Post how people on rental scooters and electric bikes are ruining city life and terrorizing residents. The riders consider themselves pedestrians and whip down sidewalks over chalk etchings and between planters, figuratively running over toes. “Jeff, you should get a scooter for your commute.” I don’t get a car during the workweek. Susan takes one to Harrisburg every day. Eli drives the other to school so he can get around in the afternoon. I catch rides with one of them when the weather sucks. Otherwise, I walk. There’s no reason for me to get a scooter. I can get to work as quickly on a bike as I can on a scooter or a car. I find walking to be most relaxing.
In 1997, Susan and I lived in Washington, DC. Our commute took us past the British Embassy every day. When Princess Diana died, a spontaneous tribute arose. Hundreds of people dropped off flowers, teddy bears, union jacks and hand written notes at the gate of the embassy. The area took on the air of a street fair for days. As we drove out of town yesterday, we passed the embassy. We fully expected to see the street lined with tchotchke and mourners for the queen. Instead, we saw six or eight people gathered around a small flower arrangement. The comparison was shocking. I’m not saying that Diana was more popular than the queen. I’m just reporting what we saw.
Twenty-five years of marriage is both an achievement and an expectation. I never questioned that we’d stay married until now. I can’t imagine living my life alone or with anyone else, and I hope and think Susan feels the same. I count myself among the luckiest alive.