Thursday, August 04, 2016

Vacation and Murder

I have this crazy little dream to visit all of the state capitol buildings in the United States. I have a few under my belt.

California's is my favorite thus far, simply because I am SO IN LOVE with my home state.

New York was definitely the most sculptural. If you are ever in Albany and have have the chance to go inside, the hundreds of delicately hand carved faced in the sandstone walls are stunning. A little creepy, but in a super cool way.

Connecticut holds a special place in my heart because my eldest son and I were able to get access to the staircase that takes you to the top of the dome and the walkway ON THE OUTSIDE! We were on the outside of the very top of the building, people! Outside! My spidey skills were itching to be used. With great power comes great responsibility, you know, so I held it together and just took a few photos.

Wyoming's building in Cheyenne is the only capitol building to have a statue of a woman in front. Go Wyoming!

North Dakota? Seriously? You could do so much better than a 70's era office building that has a sign that says North Dakota State Capitol. I expected so much more from the noble Dakotans.

Every building I visit has it's own fabulous feature: statues, tributes, mile high markers (how could I ever forget you, Colorado?). With each visit I learn more about our country and the uniqueness of each state. With each visit, I feel more a part of America. I feel connected.

Sarah Vowell's hilarious and historical book "The Assassination Vacation" is like a visit to a state capitol for me, if wandering around the outside of capitol buildings checking for unlocked doors was the same thing as visiting sites related to presidential assassinations. Reading it gave me a sense of connection to historical events that have shaped the country I live in today. It helped me feel connected. It helps me to remember, as much as the situationally racist orange guy likes to shout it, America isn't worse off today than it was when President Lincoln skulked about, being all emancipatory and stuff.

Here's the deal, studying history, especially history delivered in a relevant and engaging way, helps us to see that there is truly nothing new under the sun. Even if it does feel like we are all going to hell in a handbasket that we bought at Wal-Martville made by child laborers, it's all going to be o.k. When I read of the shitshow that was the Republican nominating convention of 1880, where James Garfield was nominated to be the presidential candidate in the 36th round of voting, my heart stops palpitating for a moment at the thought of the current pile of ridiculousness that we are calling politics. It's all going to be o.k. When we take the time to examine what has happened in the past and how we, both individually and as a collective people, have managed to make it through relatively unscathed (well, except for Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley, in this case), it can provide the perspective that the tiny little moment of time we are experiencing right at this very moment isn't all there is. In the grand scheme of things, it's just that: a tiny, little moment. It only seems all-encompassing to us because that is all we are able to see.

State capitol buildings, presidential assassination sites, plaques on large rocks in Upstate New York, whatever it takes to move someone to study the history of their place, whatever it takes to help people to calm the heck down and realize that it's all going to be o.k. We've gone through muck and mire before, we've been afraid of change before, we've watched our leaders be total buttheads and make butthead-ish decisions before, and still, we have survived. In fact, some might think we've become a better place because of it. All I know is I love capitol buildings and have about 40 to go. Watch out South Dakota, unlock those doors and polish up the dome, because I am coming for you!

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