It was Tuesday, March 3, 2020, 17:25. I keep my phone on what I call Continental time but what is more commonly known as military time here in the United States. If I am to be honest with myself, it’s the one vestige from life with my ex-military ex-husband.
It was a Tuesday like so many others, although there is no such thing. My older son was born on a Tuesday in November– a Tuesday unlike any other. That Tuesday child, so fair of face, and I had spent this particular Tuesday doing high school interviews –definitely not your typical Tuesday.
Only six people in the country had died of Covid-19 that Tuesday, in the other Washington– you know, the state. They died in the one that has full representation, in a nursing home in Kirkland– like the Costco brand. Senator Amy Klobuchar dropped out of the race that Tuesday– perhaps wisely not wanting to be part of another grisly Tuesday tradition. Can we ever look at first Tuesdays in November the same way after the nauseating one in 2016?
Is anything about the DC experience truly pedestrian, even on a Tuesday? Everything here has a gilded aura– even the crappier things. And so it is with a few public high schools: A long, selective process just so your child can get a secondary education. I have a lot of thoughts on the subject, but they are not for today.
That Tuesday, March 3, was a gorgeous day. It had that crystalline winter light, but just a little more intense– that end-of-winter light that can make the whole day look like an extended golden hour. Slanted light that lasts forever, gilding everything it touches and casting it for immortality.
And so, we took an Uber to Duke Ellington School of the Arts and then took a long walk to School Without Walls. We were sermonized by the chair of the vocal department, whose commitment to Duke Ellington was as daunting as her voice was gorgeous. We had ice cream at Thomas Sweet’s. We moseyed along manicured Georgetown streets. I lectured the 14 year old and he bore it gracefully. He gossiped and moped in equal measure– this person I once held with one arm, now towering over me. We looked out to the river in the distance and he patiently waited as I documented the cars winding fast along Rock Creek Parkway and the budding trees and the light– always the light. We had burgers and waited patiently for his Walls interview– a more equitable affair involving a teacher and students, conducted in an art studio with milky northern light.
(Aside: We liked Banneker’s interview best. The teachers were impressive, but not nearly as much as the student body– a small legion of poised, well-mannered kids. I wanted to hug them all.)
We multi-modaled– Ubered and walked and Metro’ed. By the time we got to Union Station, scant blocks from home, it was time for the most gorgeous light of all to shine on our beloved neighborhood.
Tuesdays are either the happiest or saddest of days, depending on your path in life. Tuesday is unmoored from any pretense of weekend: a serious day. There is no hiding from Tuesday. There is no lying on Tuesday, no matter how hard you try. If you are to have a ready excuse for lack of productivity any other day of the week– Monday as too Monday; Wednesday as humpday; Thursday as mini Friday and Friday as practically Saturday– Tuesday is the one day that stands alone in its impossibility and integrity.
You cannot hide from Tuesdays.
And it was on that Tuesday, that 5:25 p.m. on a Tuesday, that I saw the neighborhood watering hole– that unwitting catalog of Ann Taylors and Joseph Banks– cast in the most beautiful light of all. The workday done but Washington still Washingtoning, engrossed in the acerbic camaraderie of DC. The perfect light bouncing off the Heritage Foundation, light that perhaps would have been shunned by many had they known the source of their sudden beauty glow. The patio, brimming with people. With humanity, in close contact. No social distancing– just beers and chitchat. The patio, festooned with symbolic That Tuesday banners. Only in DC does your local crappy pub run for public office, we all chuckle. An electric bike, bright and exotic punctuates the scene. An exclamation mark full of potential energy.
Union Pub is not really crappy, and the food is pretty good. If I were feeling saucy, I’d write a small ode to their totchos– nacho toppings on an excessive amount of tater tots. It’s very #thistown and we all like it that way– it’s just that some of us don’t enjoy beer and totchos at 100dB.
A moment, frozen in time. Festoons flapping in the breeze. White shirts, ties, heels, pitchers of beer –and, one extrapolates, totchos– all captured in a small but great moment, bathed in the perfect light.
Seeing this photo three Tuesdays later, I’d like to think that this was an effortless, unthought, honest moment in our lives. That that’s who we were, not lying, just off work on a Tuesday. Spreading our disease, bathed in the golden light of a Tuesday.