State of the Union

One block from the Capitol, and the pub is mostly full, the smell of fried food hanging heavy on the air. The round tables are packed–mostly white, trendy, rumpled button downs and leather shoes. Each face turns a blank stare at us, only half noticing, absorbed in the words coming from large screen tvs in each nook.

I wonder to myself if anyone in the rest of the country does this–rushes across the city to watch the President give a speech on tv, hangs on every word because each morsel of public relations prowess, each sound bite of proclamation is a vote, policy, executive order that could change everything tomorrow morning.

We finally find my friends at a table on the patio, five intern girls leaning in to a cold plate of sweet potato fries in front of three tv screens. I only know four of the people–and only three names–but thankfully Sanjay introduces himself while I lean in to hug Lydia.

Boehner is concentrating on maintaining a carefully sour face, pulling his mouth down and narrowing his eyes, head cocked to catch the blasphemy his commander in chief will surely slip into the address. Remember it so Rubio can pull a Ben Carson and give a rousing denunciation at the end to the same audience that is now standing to clap, now settling back into their seats.

Biden has his expression mastered: schoolboy smiling eyes, dimples in full force as stand-up-sit-down, he leads the democratic chorus.

Sanjay and I scrape a couple of plastic chairs together behind the group. It’s just cold enough to keep my fingertips icy, so I lean in to his arm and we talk into each other’s ears, boehner’s faces and intern jokes, feeling the presence of the Capitol building a block away yet at the same time, only feeling the evening like any other here, in Washington, DC.


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