He Fought For What Was Right

Entry #18.2 / 4th July 2022

Since I was going to be in the same area, I decided to go to Lincoln’s Waffle Shop again for breakfast. While there was a line for it again – bigger than the previous day – I was allowed quick entry again for being a one-person party.

                  Benefits of going at it alone!

                  I had spoken to Janette and Ryan about Ford’s Theatre and while they were interested the previous day, they texted earlier to say they weren’t coming as Janette was suffering from pretty bad bug bites.

                  (Spoiler alert – I would soon be suffering too.)

                  So, once I had a fill of a good breakfast, I made my way over to Ford’s Theatre. 

                  I was nervous at first that I wouldn’t be allowed entry with both my backpack and rucksack. But thankfully I was and a group of us were soon led into the theatre itself. 

                  We were all asked to take our seats in the theatre – mainly on the bottom row so we could hear what the speaker spoke to us.

                  Once I took my seat, I noticed some people pointing their phones to the far, upper right of the theatre. Like they were taking photos.

                  Curious, I followed the direction of their attention and saw a booth up above decorated with American flags. At first, I thought: why the hell have they done that?

                  But, after a few, quick seconds, it clicked.

                  Shit, that was the booth he was shot in.

                  I didn’t know how long I ended up staring at it, unsure of what to think, but soon the speaker for this part of the theatre/museum experience came up to the stage. I pulled my attention to it as he began to speak, asking if everyone could hear him.

                  “First things first, welcome to Ford’s Theatre!” The speaker welcomed us all, and in response, we all gave positive mumbles. “I’m Alan and I’m just here to speak to you generally about the theatre’s history, the night that this theatre is famous for, and what happens here in the present day.”

                  And he did. At first, he spoke about the theatre’s opening dates and what performances were normally held here. Then it went to the night that the President was assassinated here.

                  “So, raise your hands if you know roughly the events that took place here on April 14th, 1865?” Alan asked and slowly hands rose, including mine. “Right, would anyone like to offer up some facts about that night that someone might not know?”

                  Everyone’s hands went down faster than the bolts of lightning the other night. Unable to bear the awkwardness of that, I raised my hand back up.

                  Alan smiled at me. “Yes miss?”

                  I returned the smile. “Yeah, well, there wasn’t just President Lincoln’s assassination that night. There were two other planned assassinations – one with the Vice President and the other with the…” I paused for a moment to recall. “The Secretary of State?”

                  Alan nodded, “Yes. That is true, but the people who were tasked with it failed.”

                  “Well, the one who was meant to kill the Vice President got drunk and talked himself out of it.” I said with a slight laugh, “and the Secretary of State was only wounded during the attempt, saved by the fact that a few days or weeks earlier he was in some sort of carriage accident and he had some kind of jaw assistance that blocked the knife from morally wounding him.” To further emphasize this, I made a stabbing motion towards my cheek with a funny face to accompany it.

                  The friendly smile on Alan’s face then turned into a full-on grin. “You don’t need this part of the history lesson, do you?”

                  Feeling my cheeks redden, I shifted in my seat. “I know a lot of weird facts.”

                  Alan nodded and then proceeded to the next hand raised.

                  Once he got a few other facts about the night from other people, he went on to tell the events of that night. Like he said though, it wasn’t anything completely new to me. The only few new things I learned were the facts about how he ended up at the Peterson House across the street.

                  When he asked if there were any questions about the events of that night, I raised my hand back up before I could stop myself.

                  The friendly smile on Alan’s face returned to a grin. “Yes miss?”

                  “Ugh…” Why do I hate myself? “When Booth jumped from the booth – no pun intended there.” I gestured to the booth in question. “Didn’t he say something on the stage before he skipped off?”

                  “Yes and no,” Alan said, thinking over what to say for a moment. “There are conflicting reports of what Booth said after he shot the president. Some say he said it from the actual booth, and others on the stage. Some say he shouted “freedom” and others say he shouted the Virginia motto: “Thus always to tyrants!”” Alan then gestured his hands in a shrugging manner. “Depending on what witness you believe from that night what he said varies largely.”

                  Then he went on to answer a few more questions that other people had about that night before going on to speak about President Lincoln himself.

                  “Historians often weigh the importance each president has had,” Alan went on, sitting on the stool provided for him on the stage. “And the best way to rank each one is based on the lasting impact of their presidency – whether good or bad – and how they kept and held themselves to the constitutions of the United States. And you know when that is best evaluated?” Pretty much everyone shook their heads no. “You look over the particular president’s time thirty years later. That way you can best see the impact of their legacy and come up with scores from that.”

                  I took that information in, eyes flickering up towards the flagged up booth above.

                  “President Lincoln, unsurprisingly, is one of the top-ranked presidents of the United States. And it can be the top at some points, though it’s a bit of a wrestle with President Washington. And that is based on the fact that historians waited thirty years to see the impact of his legacy on this country.”

                  Someone then raised their hand, which Alan waved for them to speak. “Does that mean we won’t know how bad Trump was until thirty years?”

                  Alan laughed, “Pretty much, unfortunately.”

                  Then there was another round of questions, some I was paying attention to and others I was not. I just kept thinking about the stage, President Lincoln, his impact… My eyes constantly darted upwards toward the booth in contemplation.

                  “Right! I think that’s it for now!” Alan clapped his hands together. “Feel free to explore as much of the theatre as you can before heading over to the Peterson House. Then, after the Peterson House, there should be a little museum that will explain the events that followed Lincoln’s death. If you have any more questions though, please do not hesitate to come over as I’ll be here for a bit longer.”

                  I stayed in my seat as everyone started to get up and go. Some went over to the stage to talk to Alan, and others went exploring the theatre. Taking photos and chatting amongst themselves as they did.

                  Eventually, I stood up from my seat and made my way over to Alan. Luckily, the last person who was there to speak to him finished just as I wandered up.

                  “My best student.” Alan joked as he noticed me approaching.

                  I let out a laugh. “Sorry about that. I am just a download away from being a complete know-it-all.”

                  Alan waved it off. “No, don’t apologize. I’m glad to see someone so enthusiastic about history.”

                  I laughed. “Well, I think in another life I was a historian. I would’ve liked to have been now, but fate had other plans.”

                  We chatted for a few minutes, mainly on the night of President Lincoln’s assassination and we traded additional information we had of that night. But as the conversation bled out, I had one last question.

                  “What do you think it would’ve been like?” I asked, going on when Alan titled his head in question. “If he had lived? If Booth hadn’t been a suicidal idiot and just kept to his acting ways?”

                  Alan puffed out a laugh. “That is a question that we have no way of truly answering, unfortunately. But,” Alan then reached over for the stool on the stage, getting ready to leave. “All I can say is that he is probably one of the greatest men to ever live. And people like him are a rarity.”

                  “Why do you say that?” I knew it to be true, but I wanted to hear his opinion.

                  “Because he wasn’t a man who fought for what was a popular cause.” Alan shot me a soft smile, “he fought for what was right.”

***

The Last Half-Day

Entry #18.1 / 4th July 2022

I woke up earlier than the previous day for two reasons. First, to ensure everything was packed and secure. Second, to make the most of my last-half day in Washington DC. As I got ready, I seriously debated whether to put on makeup, especially since I felt so much prettier on Saturday morning without it. Even when I decided to wear makeup, I wondered if I needed the full routine. Did I really need concealer, foundation and powder? Could I get by with just the concealer and powder – or even just powder, some eyebrow stuff, a little eyeshadow and mascara?

            In the end, those were experiments for another day, and I ended up putting on the whole shazam.

            Another debate that followed was about my rucksack. I considered leaving it at the hostel to pick up later so I wouldn’t be carrying it around like a crazy person. However, when I looked at my plans for the day – visiting Ford’s Theatre and going back to the Capitol to see if I could get any closer – I knew there wouldn’t be time to return to the hostel, especially since it was nowhere near the bus station.

            So, with a heavy sigh, once I was ready to go, I picked up my rucksack and left the shared room.

***

Disclaimer

xr:d:DAF4hO4rI_M:4,j:4162866675697443473,t:24010707

This blog is a personal diary, and the content shared here is based on my own experiences, thoughts, and opinions. I am not a professional in any field, and the information provided on this blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only.

I do my best to ensure the accuracy and validity of the content I share, but I cannot guarantee the completeness or timeliness of the information. The content may evolve and change over time as I continue to learn and grow.

Please keep in mind that any advice, tips, or recommendations I provide are based on my personal experiences and should not be considered as professional advice. Before making any decisions or taking actions based on the content of this blog, I recommend consulting with qualified professionals or experts in the relevant field.

I am not responsible for any consequences that may arise from following the information provided on this blog. However, I will do my best to ensure any sensitive topics will be warned prior to each post. Your use of this blog and its content is at your own discretion and risk.

I value respectful and constructive discussions, so I welcome comments and feedback. However, I reserve the right to moderate and remove comments that are offensive, spammy, or violate the blog’s policies.

By accessing and using this blog, you agree to abide by this disclaimer and all applicable laws and regulations.

Thank you for visiting and reading my blog. I hope you find it interesting and enjoyable.

I went swimming in Washington DC.

Entry #17.4 / 3rd July 2022

The swim turned out to be a great idea. It was nice to swim back and forth and not worry about any kids or anyone else hanging around. It was just nice to take a minute to appreciate the cool water and also the fact: I’m swimming in the middle of Washington DC!

            It was a thought that I never thought would come to pass. It never probably never would’ve made it to my bucket list as it was such a silly thing to wish for. But the thoughts washed over me then:

            I ate breakfast in Times Square.

            I went swimming in Washington DC.

            These unbelievable but simple facts cracked a wide smile on my face that I hope wouldn’t be removed for a long time.

***

I was swimming for a good hour or so, which ten minutes after I got out I ended up sitting on one of the beach chairs and got talking to another girl at the pool. I found out she was there for the weekend also, though visiting a friend within Washington DC. We spoke about what we got up to within the city and she also gave me some ideas of places to go within America, which I thanked her for.

            Once I got back to the shared room, I quickly showered to get the chlorine off my skin and popped out to a nearby shop to get food. I didn’t get anything too fancy, and when my stomach was satisfied, I called it a day and went for my last sleep in the bed of heaven.

Rock Creek Park

Entry #17.3 / 3rd July 2022

The conversation continued for a while longer, delving into other things I’d been up to and how he was doing. Just before we wrapped, he practically demanded I send him photos so he could feel even more jealous.

            Shortly after I ended the call, I received a text from Janette saying she and Ryan were at Rock Creek Park and asked if I wanted to join them. I replied that I would be there soon.

            Since it was quite a distance from the Capital to Rock Creek Park, I decided to get an Uber there.

            Then, almost twenty minutes later, I arrived at a car park of the park and text Janette to send me her location.

            A few minutes later I groaned out in pure frustration.

            It turned out they were on another side of the park, and it would take nearly thirty minutes to walk through the park to get there.

            It’s fine. I thought as I tugged out my camera from my backpack. Just another jolly walk through nature again.

            Normally, it wouldn’t be too bad – I love walking through woods and parks. Sparking the photographer skills in me. But the major difference was that I was on my own. And I’ve watched way too much true crime content to know what happens to girls in the woods on their own.

            I’m literally my own worst enemy.

            Straightening my shoulders, I marched into the woods, and after a while, it was easy to forget that I was on my own. Nature had that effect on me.

            I took photos, captured footage and simply immersed myself in the natural beauty surrounding me. Though at times I felt a bit unnerved, as if someone were watching me, encountering other hikers put me at ease.

            I made sure to smile and say hi to them. Because you never know.

            Following Google Maps proved to be difficult at some points too. Sometimes it would say I was going off the pathway (which I wasn’t) and other times it would say I was swimming in the flowing river (which I most definitely wasn’t). But it did give me the gist of where to go and which directions to take, so I couldn’t condemn it completely.

            (Google Maps get your shit together.)

            Eventually, I found Janette and Ryan at a picnic table, enjoying the sunshine washing down on them.

            “Good day?” I asked after hellos were exchanged.

            “Kinda,” Ryan replied, “the zoo was a bit of a let down though. All the animals… they looked so depressed there.”

            “Ugh, that sucks.” I said as I sat down with them. “Have you guys eaten yet?”

            Janette shook her head. “Nah, not yet. We were waiting for you to see if you wanted to go out for something to eat.”

            Feeling how empty my stomach had become with the day’s events, I nodded. “I’m starving!”

            We hung about in the area for another ten minutes or so before getting a refill of water nearby and heading to the bus stops back into the city centre.

***

Once we returned to the city centre, we wandered around before settling on Taco Bell for food. I thought – hoped – it would be the same experience as Popeyes. That the uncertainty would turn into a good experience.

            But I was wrong.

            I couldn’t find anything I would particularly like, and when I did order something, I ended up hating it.

            The joys of being a sensitive taste buds.

            Fortunately though, after the Taco Bell disaster, we stopped by a Krispy Kremes that had a special deal going on.

            “Since you guys are wearing the colours of red, white or blue, you get one of the flag doughnuts for free.” The till operator informed us with a wide, friendly smile on his face.

            I frowned. “But why – oh, Independence Day tomorrow.”

            Janette snorted, “as you can tell, we’re not Americans.”

            “But we’ll be enjoying betraying our country by celebrating Independence Day tomorrow with you guys.” I commented, “because, you know, good for you guys.”

***

Eventually, the three of us went our separate ways. Janette and Ryan were considering going out for dinner with me tonight, but later I received a text from them saying they were having a night in. Considering the amount of walking I did today, I was grateful for the chance to rest.

            As I was lounging about, exploring the hostel and contemplating how to spend a relaxed evening, I noticed the entrance to the outdoor area of the hostel, where the swimming pool was located.

            Feeling it would be a good time for a good ole fashioned swim, I grabbed my swimwear and headed for the pool area.

***

A Daughterly Call

Entry #17.2 / 3rd July 2022

It took me an embarrassing ten minutes to realise that I was, in fact, exploring the Rose Garden at the US Botanic Gardens. I wasn’t sure if this was the same Rose Garden I had heard about in numerous press conferences during my previous fascination with American politics (probably not), but it certainly piqued my interest.

            At one point, there was this huge, artistic, branch design in the mist of the garden called “O Say Can You See” that I had fun walking through.

            It was so nice to be surrounded by nature and all the beauty it can bring to a day. So, it was only natural that I would go onto explore the Botanic Garden as well.

            Luckily it was free admission and after being given a map of the building, I was allowed to go in.

            Did I learn anything? I made an effort, but I’m not particularly a big science nor plant person in general. Some of the signs I tried to read were too technical for me to grasp. If my Dad were here, he’d likely encourage me to learn and insist that I read every sign we encountered.

            That being said, it didn’t mean I couldn’t appreciate the beauty and the amazing designs of these natural natures though.

            So, I wandered around, simply taking in the various smells, sights, and textures of everything around me. At one point, I even explored the upstairs area, though I didn’t linger long as the heat was unbearable.

            I spent a full hour here, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The atmosphere was relaxing and refreshing, which truly brightened up my day.

            Continuing to follow where the day took me, still on the path towards the Capitol, I passed through the Bartholdi Fountain and Gardens area just across the street. It was intriguing to explore, and I managed to get a good photo with the fountain with the help of a stranger. In return, we engaged in small chat that evolved into a conversation about a bit of history between the British and Americans (after he realised I was British). It felt really good – having a random chat in the midst of my day and sharing a laugh while doing it.

            Eventually I made my way to the Capitol, and I was a bit disappointed to see the area closed.

            It must be because it’s a Sunday? I thought and when I looked up times of its opening, Google said it would be open the next day, so I guessed Sunday’s are cursed.

            But I didn’t let this deter me, and I managed to snap a few good selfies. Some strangers on the street even helped me get a few photos too. It was really nice – to witness where the most important decisions of the country were made.

            As I wandered around the outside of the Capitol grounds, I came across the Neptune Fountain just across from it. Just above, the steps leading to it, was the Library of Congress. Unfortunately, that was closed as well, and I didn’t think they would allow tourists in anyway.

            As I took a break, sitting down on one of the picnic tables just outside the library, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride wash over me. I had seen and accomplished so much, and it was only midday!

            Sitting there, though, I couldn’t help but feel a bit lonely in that moment. I was glad to have seen it all on my own, but I didn’t have anyone to tell. I could text my sister and friends, but verbally…

            That’s when I realised that I did have someone.

            I grinned as I reached for my phone and looked for the contact I was intending to speak to.

            The phone rang, rang, and rang and I was worried for a moment that maybe he had left his phone at work, or left his phone at home whilst he’s at work.

            But those worries were soon dashed when the call picked up.

            “Hello?”

            “Hello father!” I examined with the usual phrase I held whenever we had phone calls.

            He had a light chuckle as answered with his usual phrase. “Good day daughter!” I smirked in response. “How you doing?”

            It was then I realised, somewhat selfishly, that this was probably the first bit of contact I’d had with him since coming to America. It wasn’t entirely unexpected, though. I had a lot to adjust to, and since my Dad was one of those old-generation technology people, he didn’t have Facebook or WhatsApp that I could easily contact him on. I did send him a text saying I was safe at the camp, and he did send an email asking how I was doing and if I could send any photos of my adventures.

            But I hadn’t replied to that email. Not because I couldn’t be bothered or anything, but because I had been so overwhelmed. Since the last week had been emotionally challenging, I didn’t want to accidently say anything that would worry him.

            It’s different now. Right now I was doing something that was making up for the bad parts of the week and I really wanted to share it with him.

            “I’m doing good! You?”

            “Yeah, can’t complain.”

            My lips widened upwards as I looked out towards the Capitol. “Guess where I am right now.”

            “Oh, um.” Dad paused to think. “New York?”

            “Nope!”

            “New Orleans?”

            “Nope!”

            “Uh…” I could practically see him scratching his head. “I dunno. Where?”

            I pushed my lips together in effort to contain my excitement. “Washington DC!”

            “Yeah?” Dad asked, his own excitement and curiosity coming through more strongly.

            “Yep!” I confirmed, “to be exact, I’m sitting directly cross the Capitol.”

            “Yeah?” Dad repeated, now becoming more impressed than anything. “Very good. Who’d you go there with?”

            “Ugh…” I struggled momentarily. “Well, technically I came here with two people from the camp, but I originally was going to come on my own. And I’m on my own now as Janette and Ryan wanted to do their own thing.”

            “Yeah?” Now he was shocked, which I didn’t know whether to take as an insult or not. “What have you done then?”

            I proceeded to tell him about the day before, about the hostel I’m staying at, seeing the White House, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. While I told him about the storm that took place and how beautiful it was, I purposely left out about the Australia part. Not only did I want him to freak out and start fearmongering me (he’s done that in the past), but I knew if I told him that I was advised by friends at the camp to go, he wouldn’t believe it was my own independent decision.

            A common theme that ran through the family and then, eventually, my Dad, is that I don’t know my own mind. That any opinions, thoughts, and decisions had to be influenced by other people.

            As I got older and matured, not only did it become really degrading, but I saw it as a way for them to avoid acknowledging the reasons behind my opinions and decisions.

            The family was known for constantly burying their heads in the sand.

            ‘Probably why they liked going to Spain so much,’ the responsible voice quipped.

            My Dad, however, I don’t think it came from a place of avoidance. I believe it stemmed more from parental concern and his lack of complete understanding of me.

            He was initially the weekend Dad. Even then, those visits were infrequent as I harboured a fear of staying over at his place after hearing about a string of burglaries in Joy’s neighbourhood (my brain works in strange ways). So, he was the Saturday Dad for a while.

            But then life took a turn – bad things happened – and at the age of fourteen, I moved in with my Dad. By then, I was a teenage girl grappling with a lot, so he didn’t have the chance to really get to know me on a day-to-day basis amidst all the chaos.

            It took years for our relationship to begin to form, and that was amid my last year of undergraduate studies. It was when I started to prioritize my mental health and focus on my well-being and academics at university. I believe that’s when he began to see me more as an adult.

            I won’t deny that I haven’t been influenced by making this sudden, whiplash decision, because I have. Conversations with Ryan about Australia set the wheels in motion. Then, the experience of traveling and witnessing various things added to it. And hearing that tarot card reading again…

            But then there have been other things that have influenced that decision. My entire life influenced that decision.

            That was something I couldn’t articulate to my Dad over a phone call. I don’t believe I could ever explain it to him because… I couldn’t entirely explain it to myself. The instant the thought, the decision, surfaced in my mind, I knew it was right. My soul, my entire being, resonated with a resounding yes, this is it!

            And how could I explain that to my Dad who would often say about himself: “I’m as deep as a puddle.”

            So, as the conversation turned into what I was doing today, I went onto the next day plans. “Guess what I’m doing tomorrow!”

            “No, I can’t, just tell me.” Dad laughed, probably understanding there will be more forced guessing games in the future.

            I showed mercy. “I’m going to Ford’s Theatre!”

            “What’s that?”

            “Well, from my understanding, a theatre is where people host performances and get paid for it.”

            I could hear him roll his eyes. “But it doesn’t sound like you’re going to see a performance.”

            I shook my head. “No. It’s actually the place where President Lincoln was shot.”

            “Yeah?” Dad replied, with a huff shortly after. “I didn’t realise he was shot in Washington DC.”

            “Same here!”

***

Disclaimer

xr:d:DAF4hO4rI_M:4,j:4162866675697443473,t:24010707

This blog is a personal diary, and the content shared here is based on my own experiences, thoughts, and opinions. I am not a professional in any field, and the information provided on this blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only.

I do my best to ensure the accuracy and validity of the content I share, but I cannot guarantee the completeness or timeliness of the information. The content may evolve and change over time as I continue to learn and grow.

Please keep in mind that any advice, tips, or recommendations I provide are based on my personal experiences and should not be considered as professional advice. Before making any decisions or taking actions based on the content of this blog, I recommend consulting with qualified professionals or experts in the relevant field.

I am not responsible for any consequences that may arise from following the information provided on this blog. However, I will do my best to ensure any sensitive topics will be warned prior to each post. Your use of this blog and its content is at your own discretion and risk.

I value respectful and constructive discussions, so I welcome comments and feedback. However, I reserve the right to moderate and remove comments that are offensive, spammy, or violate the blog’s policies.

By accessing and using this blog, you agree to abide by this disclaimer and all applicable laws and regulations.

Thank you for visiting and reading my blog. I hope you find it interesting and enjoyable.

The Dance of Light and Dark

Entry #16.6 / 2nd July 2022

For twenty minutes, I wandered within the memorial, exploring and absorbing it’s beauty. Engraved inscriptions adorned the walls, each one capturing my attention as I lingered over them, feeling a sense of significance was over me. I also recorded footage of the surroundings, fully aware that no camera could truly encapsulate the emotions stirring within me.

                  Eventually, once I got out of my awe-daze, I found Janette and Ryan just outside the entryway of the memorial.

                  “Hey.” I said with a light voice.

                  Janette first looked up, as they were both sat down on the top of the steps of the memorial. “You good?”

                  I nodded, about to say something when a sudden clap of thunder, louder than before, echoed through the sky. Moments later, rain began to shatter down, eliciting protests from some of the people on the lower parts of the staircase.

                  “Well,” Ryan began as he leaned back on his palms, taking in the weather changes. “I guess we arrived here at the right time.

                  Silence washed over us three as I took a seat next to Janette. Watching the rain take over the landscape.

                  Gradually, the rain intensified into a full-fledged storm, and as the first flash of lightning struck just behind the Washington Monument in the distance, the entire world seemed to pause.

                  The screaming and rushing crowds had vanished. The chatter of people within the memorial faded into silence. Janette and Ryan were no longer seated beside me. It was just the wind caressing my hair away, the rain drumming against my legs, and the comforting rumble of thunder accompanying the flashes of lightning.

                  My heart was no longer hammering – no longer beating. Mind completely still. And breathing was non-existent.

                  It was nothing. Just nothing but the rain, wind, thunder and lightning. Nothing else in this world. Nothing else existed.

                  There was nothing.

                  And then there was everything.

                  You know that stupid saying that is told to people about dying – how your whole life flashes before your eyes? Yeah, I never believed that shit either.

                  But that was what was happening now.

                  First, it was just the calming tones of the storm, and then memories whiplashed through my eyes.

                  Of course, taking the lead was the dark ones.

                  Memories of Joy. The family. Parts of my school life. The tears. The anguish. The despair. The soul-breaking and heart-stopping pit of engulfing loneliness. The dark fog that never seemed to break.

                  But it did break.

                  Memories, good, the light and, true memories flooded in.

                  The first story I wrote. My first childhood best friend. My first kiss. The theme parks that my Dad would take me to. My times playing around the brooke. My writing times within the Learning Disability area at school. My years with friends at college. Moving to Newport and Cardiff. Meeting Zara. My first graduation. Moving to York – my first proper home. Meeting Jonsey, Mitchy and Evan. My second graduation. Becoming more independent. My first solo travel to Amsterdam.

                  So many memories. The light and dark dancing alongside each other. So much in a millisecond.

                  “I don’t want you to miss out on anything.”

                  Mrs Connors’ words rang through me as the memories flashed away with the next bolt of lightning. And something felt… right.

                  Everything in my life, the bad and good, made sense in that moment. The lightning that was breaking the sky was mending my soul.

                  Because she was wrong.

                  I was wrong.

                  I’m not missing out on anything.

                  I never was.

                  It hit me with the next burst of thunder that I would’ve missed out. I would’ve missed out on this. Seeking shelter within the memorial, watching the beautiful quakes of a storm partying with the Washington Monument.

                  I would miss out on this pause. On the moment when it slowly making sense. I would’ve missed out on this breath-taking moment if I had followed the crowd.

                  And if I had missed out on this, I would’ve never come to this first breakaway thought.

                  I’m moving to Australia.

A Voice of Strength

Entry #16.5 / 2nd July 2022

The next stop on our itinerary was the Washington Monument. While we didn’t approach it directly, I found the distance we maintained surprisingly fitting. Sometimes, stepping back enhances the beauty of such landmarks. It’s like appreciating the grandeur of the monument in its entirety rather than focusing on specific details up close.

                  “We should probably get going now,” Ryan said as we sat down for a few minutes, chatting and taking in the Washington Monument. “It looks like it’s going to rain soon.”

                  Ryan wasn’t wrong. To our left, the sky painted a breathtaking scene with hues of blue blending into soft yellows and light oranges as the sunset approached. However, on the opposite side, ominous grey clouds loomed closer, casting a shadow over our location.

                  “How far is the Lincoln Memorial from here?” I questioned, slowly getting up and thinking plans in my head.

                  “Not too far…” Janette said as she looked at her phone. Most probably the map to the Lincoln Memorial. “Fifteen minutes?”

                  We debated for a minute and a half on whether it was worth braving the imminent rain. Personally, I was indifferent, but collectively, we all agreed to see if we could make it there before the rain showered us.

                  So, that involved a lot of speed walking.

                  At some point, as we walked along the pathway to the Lincoln Memorial, we slowed our pace. Evening was setting in, casting a gentle glow from the streetlights, and serene stillness enveloped us as we absorbed the ambiance of the partially wooded area, where speck of light twinkled.

                  “Oh gosh,” I mumbled as I watched the dashes of light skip around. “Are those fireflies?”

                  “Yep!” Ryan said as he causally whipped out his phone to take footage of the fireflies flowing beautifully in the area.

                  I attempted to do the same, but since it wasn’t massively dark yet, it was hard to capture the fireflies as I could see them on camera. But it was so beautiful – how nature can still overcome any manmade areas.

                  Though, this peaceful moment was interrupted by the low-thunder of the sky in the distance.

                  “Okay,” Janette stood up from the bench she took a moment to sit down on as we took our respective footages of the fireflies. “I think that’s our signal to keep moving.”

                  We sped-walked again through the pathways, looking upon the lake that ran between the monument and the memorial briefly. Then

                  The Lincoln Memorial exceeded all my expectations, unlike the White House. It was larger and more imposing than I had imagined. The staircase leading up to the memorial seemed endless, a surprise as I hadn’t anticipated any stairs at all.

                  A few merchandise carts lined the steps below the memorial, but I hardly noticed them when I first saw the Lincoln Memorial. The hustle and bustle around me, the thundering footsteps, all faded into the background. Once you laid eyes on it, it was impossible to focus on anything else.

                  Midway through climbing the never-ending steps to the Lincoln Memorial, Janette tapped on my shoulder.

                  She gave me a small smile as I met her eyes. “You alright?”

                  It took a few seconds to process what she was asking. “Yea… it’s just…” Beautiful? Breathtaking? Groundbreaking? No compliments I could conjure up seemed  sufficient for what I was seeing and feeling. It was as if… as if everything was falling into place.

                  Janette hummed in understanding. “Did you want a photo quickly? Before the rain comes?”

                  Once again, it took me a few seconds to get it together and I nodded enthusiastically. “Yes please.”

                  After snapping a few quick photos for Instagram, we ascended the steps to the Lincoln Memorial. Despite the growing crowds around us, I didn’t feel as anxious as I thought I would. My focus was entirely on the monument itself. It appeared to expand before my eyes, as if it were stretching upwards, gaining newfound stature with each step we took.

                  But soon, we climbed the last remaining steps and we were in.

                  Wow

                  My heart raced, pounding against my chest as the memorial transformed before me, transcending mere architecture to embody the essence of the world itself. Its design, atmosphere, and the play of light combined to create an overwhelming experience. In that singular moment, I felt both so small and yet so massively big, important. Each breath, each step seemed to connect me not only with the hundreds of people present but those locked in the past. Walking into that space, I felt myself becoming a part of history itself.

                  That made me more anxious than any crowd could ever.

                  In the back of my mind, I was aware that I had become separated from Janette and Ryan within the crowds, but I couldn’t spare much thought for it. My attention was wholly absorbed by the solemn dedication of the memorial.

                  I swallowed hard as I stood in front, and as close as I could get, to the statue of President Abraham Lincoln.

                  It was difficult not to imagine he was looking directly at me, his gaze seemingly fixed upon us. And it was equally challenging to dismiss the notion that others shared the same sensation. The intensity of his gaze, directed downwards at me, at us, seemed almost urging, compelling, conveying a message. The longer I held his stare, the more I sensed something stirring within me, as if each moment fortified a growing conviction, each glance adding another layer to an emerging edifice of resolve.

                  An essence of importance, of a voice, bubbling in the depths of my soul that Lincoln was so well known for. For using his voice – for having the strength to use it.

                  But that voice… it didn’t just come from nowhere.

                  Where did his come from?

                  Where does anyone’s voice come from?

                  Where does that individual strength come from?

                  I startled slightly when someone bumped into me, their muttered apologises prompting a gentle shake of my head accompanied by a light smile. I gracefully shifted aside, allowing others to appreciate the statue.

                  But it was hard to ignore his eyes. No matter where I was in the memorial, his eyes were a burning flame.

***