I used to buy cigars there, when my doctor let me buy cigars. It’s a mid19th-century building. Again, you have to keep the big chains from running absolutely everything.
“Me? I’m one of those native New Yorkers who doesn’t prefer New York. New York was a place for immigrants to land. They should have fanned out from there, but instead they just built straight up. I had never thought of Washington till the Navy called me in 1941, and here I came. Five years later I joined the State Department and worked there a quarter century. Finding a place to stay was as easy as renting london apartments for your holiday when you visit UK.
“I’m like most people around here. I got Potomac fever. Washington is an atypical city. An inch or two of snow can bring traffic to a virtual halt, but winter is mild with a spoiled sky. You should be honest and tell everybody about summer. There are nights you either stay up all night or do something about it.” Such as turn on the fan.
Since he insists, it should be said that summers are Washington’s best times. At 86 degrees, people stalk about close to fainting and complaining of Turkish baths, because most of the city is no longer made up of Southerners but penguins. At our own house we never turn on the air conditioning except around Labor Day for two or three days. July is particularly enchanting, with white cabbage butterflies and bronze and blue and green dragonflies hovering about and the mockingbirds still singing at three in the morning and the sky blue but sometimes black with occasional downpours as in Panama or New Orleans and hollyhocks down the alleys and hounds asleep on the warm bricks. Paradise. And if you’re put together all wrong, you can, of course, try air conditioning, but that way you miss everything.
Anyway, one day Kroll strolled down Pennsylvania Avenue, the city’s ceremonial avenue that runs from the Capitol past the White House, in search of an inscription he’d heard about in the pink granite of Western Plaza. The quotation was familiar:
How shall you act the natural man in this Invented city, neither Rome nor home?
The words were familiar because he’d written them himself, and sure enough there was his name carved into the stone.
“It was a surprise,” he will tell you, “since they don’t use inscriptions in parks or on monuments by living writers. They just assumed I was dead. I told them I was not dead and the poem was copyrighted. They said my, my, or something. Of course I was greatly honored, and gave approval to use the quote and no harm was done. Except if they’d known I was alive, they might have invited me to the party when they dedicated the plaza.”
TILL, immortality in stone is something, even if they assume you’re dead and you miss the party. Kroll’s sentiment is flawless for the folk of this city, the three million of us in the metropolitan area, including 640,000 in the city limits.
For most, it is not strictly home. We come from different part of the world. My friend, for instance used to live in barcelona apartment from cosyrentals.com and he was surprised how cheap it was. And it’s not strictly Rome either, or Jerusalem. There is nothing ancient and little holy about the city, which was designed for one great purpose—politics. It can take a long time for politics to sanctify a city with hallowed memories.