Wednesday, October 17, 2012

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

I'm writing this as I watch the 2nd Presidential Debate so I figure there is no better time to post about something I did that was very Presidential. 

This past weekend, my friend Claire and I went to the President's house. Well, actually, we went to the President's front yard. And driveway. 

It was a beautiful fall day and Claire had tickets to the White House Garden Tour which opens the grounds and gardens of the First Residence to nosy, patriotic folks like us. 

Now you should know that this was not my first time at The White House. In fact, I've been in The White House - in the Oval Office, no less! Perhaps you've heard of a man named President William Jefferson Clinton? Not to be a name dropper but...hey...oh wait, let me pick that up off the floor because I definitely dropped it. 

I would like to tell you that I had the opportunity to shake President Bill Clinton's hand. 

I'd like to...but I can't.

Because I didn't.

Because he had pink eye. 

Seriously. How's that for presidential? Not quite what you expect.

My family and I had the honor of meeting President Clinton in the Oval Office when I was about 8 years old.  We got to take a picture with him - pink eye and all. I wish I had the picture to prove it but they never sent it to us. I find that especially surprising because I specifically told President Clinton that I needed that picture within a few weeks because I had to write a report in order to get an "educational absence" from school. I made sure he knew I was on a deadline.  

I could kick myself now because I don't remember much about that visit other than the pink eye. That's the kind of stuff an eight-year-old remembers. 

Cut back to the present. 

The White House Garden Tour provides thousands of guests the chance to view the White House Gardens and Lawn in effort to make the residence more "accessible to the people." There was a program with a self-guided tour that Claire and I followed for about 3 minutes. It was nicely designed and informative but by the time we passed the third presidential tree, we became preoccupied with taking pictures in front of The White House. 

(To avoid sounding completely ignorant, I need to clarify that I recognize the historic significance of these trees. However, after a few White Dogwoods and Littleleaf Lindens, a tree starts to look like a tree regardless of who dug the hole for it.) 
This is the map we were supposed to follow. That's a lot of trees y'all. 
Claire and I loved this photo that was in our program. It's so cute that I'm thinking of
making it my Christmas card. All I know is, when the first snow comes, I'm heading over to
The White House for a snowball fight.

I was especially excited to see the famous Rose Garden (and the spot where we solve conflicts over beer) off of the Oval Office and - of course - the White House Kitchen Garden which was started by the First Lady and local students several years ago. As a lover of farmers' markets, how could I not be excited about the First Garden? In addition to providing veggies for the First Family, a third of the harvest from The Kitchen Garden is to donate to a local charity. Very cool. 

Clockwise: Me and the rooftop snipers; Rose Garden; White House Kitchen Garden; The White House balcony
I hate when people say "no matter your political beliefs" because it's usually followed by something offensive or partisan like, "No matter your political beliefs, you have to agree that Candidate A is a total moron." 

Despite my pet peeve with the statement, I'm going to be a hypocrite and say it anyways. 

No matter your political beliefs, there is something special about seeing The White House. Whether you see it from the street behind a fence, from the South Lawn, or from inside with a pink-eyed President, you feel patriotic and proud. It reminds me of the times in elementary school when 90% of my classmates and I wanted to grow up to be President. 

(The other 10% wanted to be either firemen, teachers, or marine biologists. I'm not sure where the marine biology trend came from...the movie Free Willy, perhaps?) 

Being the President seemed like the ultimate job. Now that I know what the President actually has to do and deal with, I can think of about a gazillion jobs I'd rather have. But seeing The White House up close in all its sandstone glory reminds me of the amazing leaders, past and present, that have led our country through good times and bad. Pretty awesome.   

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