A woman’s place is in the House…
the Senate, and the Oval Office
Sally goes to Washington
1600 Pennsylvania Ave – the place where history is made, the building the world is run from, the center of our executive branch, the house of the nation = my weekend entertainment.
Meg, a good friend from our days at Mount Holyoke College, made my
day week year life? when she used her supreme power to score tour passes for the West Wing for Matt and me. On an absurdly hot Saturday in January, I finally got to cross one major thing off my list when I picked up my security pass and strolled through the President’s place of work (and my future office?).
After watching lots of The West Wing, it was surreal to be there in person. The hallways were missing Toby and Sam, but were filled with recent photos of the First Family and the Vice President, some as recent as Christmas. The Situation Room, across from the Navy Mess, had a peephole so you could get a good look at anyone who was knocking and make sure you really want them in your clubhouse. In the mess itself, the lazy susans were built into the table and covered with matching tablecloths, and the cloth napkins were folded to look like little sailboats.
We got to walk into the Rose Garden, and I could see the girls’ playset (also visible from the Oval Office, which may just be the best thing ever). There were a surprising number of bird nests all over the White House trees, and one of the cherry blossoms, sprouting premature buds, was held together by a series of cables – they mean business!
The Oval Office itself? Smaller than expected, and we peered through a door that you never see on the TV shows (not by Leo’s desk or Mrs. Landingham’s office). The rug on the floor – almost as big as the office – was designed by Michelle and bears quotes from famous American leaders. Overall, the office looks even cozier in person that it does in pictures – the big couches seem soft enough to sink right into, and there was a huge bowl of red apples on the coffee table (also courtesy of Michelle?). I certainly wouldn’t mind holding meetings in there!
But the real gut punch came from the busts on either side of the fireplace. On one side, Abraham Lincoln. On the other, Martin Luther King, Jr. The power of it made me lose my breath for a moment – the President who helped end slavery, and the leader who spoke up and ultimately gave his life for equality, sitting side by side, facing the desk of the first black President. It made me realize how much the world has changed since my grandparents were born, and how nothing is impossible – even I really could sit at that desk one day.
At the end of the day, it was everything I dreamed and more. It was more real than what’s on TV, smaller (and thus easier to manage, I hope!) than what I imagined, and ultimately filled with reminders about what exactly our government is there for – the people.