Monday, December 26, 2016

The Day After

Back in September, when reviews of the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History showed up, I jumped on the timed entry link.

True, I am living in Los Angeles at the moment, completely by accident, but I knew I'd be in northern Virginia around Christmas, so I booked two tickets for December 26.

The day after Christmas, my mother dropped me off at the metro stop nearest her. BBF had gotten on a Greyhound early in the morning, and was on his way from Port Authority.

The DC Greyhound station, once a new marvel hugely improved upon the decrepit one on New York Avenue, had been pronounced too big and itself decrepit, and had closed its doors sometime in the not-too-distant past, so Greyhounds now come into the bus plaza above Union Station, the same place the Bolt Bus arrives and departs from.

I vaguely remembered when I'd left from New York Avenue to go to check out NYU in my senior year of high school. When I'd gone to college from there, stopping at Breezewood the first time, and ending up in Springfield, Ohio, for my first quarter at Antioch. I'd probably headed to New York City a few times from the New York Avenue terminal. I'd no doubt arrived there from somewhere in Pennsylvania the time I hit a deer and had to leave my car at a repair shop for a week. Then, Greyhound had moved behind Union Station when it acquired Trailways. I remember a lot of red from that time. I'd left out of the "new" terminal more times than I could count, once I'd moved to the NYC-area. But now, the bus terminal was a parking structure over Union Station.

It's an improvement, to be honest. Union Station has restaurants, coffee shops, and the metro.

What Union Station doesn't have, and what nowhere in DC seems to have, is luggage storage. Or rather, it does, but it's $30 a day for one suitcase. Seriously. I'd already bought a Bolt Bus ticket to Newark for later the same day before I realized this, or I'd have just booked up a hotel room on Priceline. There was, at least, a sign indicating the luggage storage place is moving to a different location within Union Station, and supposedly introducing more sane prices.

BBF's Greyhound showed up just a little late, but that was enough time for me to pay the $30 and stash my bag. We had a bite to eat, then caught the metro over to the museum.

The timed entry system worked pretty well. If I hadn't read warnings about the line inside, I'd have missed the best part of the exhibits, deep inside the building. Once we went downstairs, we hit a massive line which we stood in for about 40 minutes before getting into the actual exhibit space. This will change in time, of course, and you'll be able to wander about freely, but for now, there was a lot of initial waiting involved.

That was the only complicated part, though. The rest was interesting and touching, and seeing it in the waning days of the first African-American president would have been unique on its own, but seeing it in the context of so many gains being imminently endangered gave me a feeling of dread. But of course, the march of history stops for no one, and while we can pretend things will be brought to a stop, that won't last. Evolution is upon us, and mere mortals attempts at controlling culture will be inevitably cast aside. The museum will not be a memory of a dying dream, but rather, will be a benchmark in progress.

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