It hasn’t felt right, let alone possible, to travel or write about travel during this pandemic. But today I realized I can do both and never leave the country. Because for the past few years I have felt like a tourist in my own country. Especially in Washington DC — a city I love. I used to feel welcomed, respected and confident here. This is the city that gave a small town TV reporter a chance to grow, learn, reinvent and launch a career that led around the world. Back in the pre-Uber era of taxi drivers, I got homesick hearing Gullah accents from behind the steering wheel — transplants from the South Carolina Low Country who came here for that same chance. I lived through historic moments here – inaugurations and marches and 9/11. I wanted to celebrate another milestone nxt week – watching Kamala Harris take her histori oath of office. But I won’t risk my health or my security after the attack on the capitol last week. So in the few hours left before even more restrictions go into effect, Gary and I walked through this city we know, love and barely recognize.
The emotions fought with each other. Grateful for the National Guard leaving their families and jobs to keep traitors away. Unnerved to be able to stand in the middle of an empty Pennsylvania Avenue. Paranoid to look up into cameras on communications towers that I know are necessary. Angry to see remnants of sedition. Uplifted to read the words of our constitution on the soaring wall of the Newseum. Gutted that instead of peaceful redress of grievances, we are a nation reduced to pushing each others buttons.
I have the sense a new journey is beginning. I’m ready to get moving, or at least writing, again. So that when I do leave this country again, I can bring the outside world a glimpse of another America.