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MAHDI: Quantity and quality

“In order to trust you with my life, I’m going to need unanimous consent.”

“But you have a simple majority!”

It’s creeping into the early hours of Sunday morning. Gathered around in the kitchen, conversation has turned for the worst. These are the kind of jokes that, after a couple of months in Washington, D.C., our close-knit group finds hilarious.

An old friend of mine who knew me long before college had made the journey to the capital, and I was the city dweller who had to show her around. After days of dismal rain, snow and bitter winds subsided to reveal sun beating down on the National Mall. We fought through crowds to catch a glimpse of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln housed in his monument. I took an unexpected pride in navigating my poor friend through historical sites around the capital, whether she wanted to see them or not. Apart from a new penchant for cheesy humour on Congressional processes, my infatuation with Washington is with its substance more than its aesthetics.

The sheer volume of news that’s pumped through the city’s veins is immense. U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel was probably the most prominent headline, and despite negotiations and affirmations between Obama and Netanyahu occurring thousands of miles away, monitors in offices, televisions in homes and newspapers on stands all portrayed what they could of the meeting. A notable political drama was President Obama coaxing Prime Minister Netanyahu to apologize to Turkey for the death of non-Turkish activists. This was the first time Obama has travelled to Israel, and that fateful phone call to Turkey was the first contact Netanyahu made since his election to office in 2009. According to TIME, Obama did not leave empty handed, but with a stone from Jerusalem that’s 2,000 years old. One that’s embedded with a microchip containing the declaration of independence from America and Israel.

On the domestic front, Tuesday will see a large rally take place in front of the Supreme Court with regard to marriage equality. Activism, like news, permeates Washingtonian streets, and once you see it in action it’s infectious. However, take the rosy hue of collective action with a grain of salt: A crazed man’s musings at empty cars floated through embassy walls filled the background as a bundled man clutched his clipboard and pamphlets in preparation for what lay ahead.

Despite the furore brewing, I found myself in Hyattsville, Maryland on a quiet Saturday afternoon. I had extracted myself from the city’s clutches as my friend and I travelled to see her baby cousin. I sat on a see-saw for the first time in over a decade as the little boy ran around with his toy in earnest. Sights and sounds on the small field were new and exciting. I grabbed his miniature fingers as he tried to climb into a miniature fire truck and watched him spin the steering wheel. I looked into his eyes and said “Wheel!” over and over again. After watching me with a bemused expression on his face, he quietly but resolutely uttered, “Wheel!” before running off to his next adventure in the playground, gurgling with glee. As we brought him back to his nursery room, he bounced around to reggae music, his boundless energy contagious. At less than 24 months old, he bounded down the pavement as if he already knew the way home.

The West Hyattsville parking lot seemed a world away as the Metro brought us back to the heart of the city in a matter of minutes. By now, the sunlight had turned pink and darkness was beginning to descend. Near the cluster of Smithsonian museums were the first hints of the infamous cherry blossoms. Groups in paddleboats were floating in the basin, their reflections dancing in the ripples in between the stoic gazes of Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King, Jr. However, cherry blossoms are not the only things in bloom this time of year. In another TIME story, it appears the First dog Bo Obama has a marriage proposal on the table. The Oregon Humane Society produced the video to raise awareness for the annual Doggie Dash fundraiser. As of now, Bo’s answer is uncertain, although I wouldn’t hold my breath for a presidential canine wedding anytime soon.

Indeed, a myriad of news stories surge through the Washingtonian network every second. Thankfully, some of them are more welcome than others. Politicians sometimes have to be dealt with like petulant children and even puppies are capable of grand gestures of love. With that, another week in Washington begins.

Sofiya Mahdi is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences studying abroad in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at sofiya218@gmail.com.

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