That we happened to be in Washington DC at election time is nothing but chance. We planned these dates and stops oh so many months ago, when polls were quiet and debates hadn't been called. But DC had always been a town we were most excited to see, so when it dawned on us that we would be there at an all-together electric time, we were pretty damn pleased with ourselves. We like our politics almost as much as we like our West Wing re-runs, which is to say quite a bit. Following the lead-up to it all from our studio in Sydney, catching speeches and reports second hand and trawling through endless articles and predictions seemed surreal and very far away as we drove into Washington last Saturday afternoon. I was smitten from the first block of quaint stone buildings, nothing towering-high, just old and impressive, set back as they were behind tree-lined streets. Our friends lived just beyond Dupont Circle, an area I wouldn't care to drive in heavy traffic (I get confused by roundabouts in this country, my instinct is to swing left), but so beautiful and leafy, dotted with embassies and brick townhouses. We had three days ahead of us and a hundred odd things we wanted to do. And while the weather was brisk, it was gloriously sunny for us the whole time.
Jordy had done his research and kindly written ahead to his senator, a pretty wonderful way to have your tours organised for government buildings. It meant we didn't have to queue, and knew ahead of time where and when we'd be able to see certain things. It also meant we were able to get into the White House - this was confirmed late, but miraculously fell on election day itself. On the first day we made it to the Capitol Building and the Congressional Library, and both were outstanding - not just in terms of the quality of information and access, but the buildings themselves and the stories they held were pretty humbling. Getting a big dose of tradition and culture was a brilliant way to start this trip around America. I have a better idea of the history and happenings that built it, and I have an enormous soft spot for the man they re-elected to run it. Walking through the White House, or the few rooms we were able to, on our last day there made for a pretty special time. It's hard to even describe the hour or so we spent there, except to say it felt important and so impressive. The walls were dripping with paintings of some of the most intelligent men the world has known, or certainly the most powerful. That the rooms are still in use, and the halls are walked by staff and first family alike, made me feel a little like a rockstar.
We listened to the election results pour in as we drove down to North Carolina that afternoon. And from a small side table at the Raleigh Times (a brilliant local bar, if you're ever in the area, in the city's old newspaper offices) we listened to locals cheer and whoop as states were declared blue. I was proud of my guy, whose Iowa vote seemed a pretty damn important one in the end, and was one of the many who got teary during President Obama's acceptance speech. It was heartening to see a country make such a big and, in my mind, positive choice.