Monday, January 12, 2009

Like the Great Flood, but with "aliens"

It's like we're flying along in our spaceship, minding our own business, and suddenly, aliens hail us and tell us to prepare to be boarded. That's how Washington, DC, feels right now. We know they're coming, but we have no idea how many and we're not sure exactly when. They may already be here, among us. Spying on us. Learning our ways. Paying through the nose at our hotels.

The intersection nearest to my office had a pile of cement barricades on each corner, ready and waiting. I looked at them, puzzled. As anyone who has ever lived as a pedestrian in a city with an underground train system can tell you, riding the Metro tends to make you compartmentalize the city in your mind. Bits of city only exist around their correlating Metro stations. My office is a mere 1.3 miles away from the White House, but I never really think about it that way because the White House is on a completely different Metro line. (Yes, I did look up that distance on Google Maps.) The barricades, I realized, are waiting here because there's going to be an official inaugural ball in the beautiful museum across the street from my office. Of course.

I'm used to seeing soldiers in fatigues: we have a branch of the Army headquartered on the fourth floor of my building. But this morning, I saw a soldier in full dress uniform, carrying an important-looking silver briefcase. He saluted a man in fatigues who was entering my building in front of me, and both men turned and looked over their shoulders to share a decidedly un-militaristic smile. I like to think that they smiled because they're prepared to be boarded. And perhaps, they smiled because the word on the street is that when all the aliens leave, we'll have something new. Things will be different, maybe even better.

Things are gonna change, I can feel it.

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