Last night at the Library of Congress, Ada Limon gave her inaugural reading as the nation's poet laureate. A few weeks ago, when I realized that my canceled Thursday night class was the same night, I applied for a free ticket. I got one, but in the end, I decided not to go.
I got an e-mail on Wednesday that advised that we would be required to wear masks, and I would have been wearing one anyway, but I did start to think about the wisdom of this kind of indoor event when a pandemic is ongoing. I did get a booster shot on Friday, but I'm not in a hurry to test that protection.
I don't know why I didn't think about the potential of crowds when I requested a free ticket. I'm not used to sell out crowds at poetry events, and the Wed. e-mail advised that we would be at full capacity. The line to get in for the 7:00 p.m. reading would start to assemble at 5:00 p.m., and we'd be let in to get seats, if we were far enough in the front of the line, at 6:30. There would be overflow seating in a hall where we could watch on a screen.
I thought about standing in line starting at 5. I thought about all the people. I thought about the fact that the reading would be recorded for YouTube broadcast. I wondered how much I really wanted to go.
When I requested a ticket, I had planned to get downtown early, but so that I could go to a museum, not stand in line. I was willing to spend the money for a Metro ride there and back, but did I really want to go and spend that time standing in line? It would have been glorious weather for standing in line, if we were outside. If we were inside, there was that much more time for disease exposure.
In the end, I decided not to go. I felt a bit guilty--not because it meant that someone else couldn't go. I assume that the event planners gave out extra tickets realizing that some of us wouldn't be able to attend. I told myself that if I had known what the Wednesday e-mail made clear, about crowds and standing in line, I wouldn't have gotten a ticket in the first place, but I still felt a bit guilty.
When I thought about living in seminary housing, taking advantage of DC cultural events was one of the reasons I wanted to do this. Ada Limon is a poet I'd like to see read, even if she wasn't the poet laureate. Hopefully, I'll get another chance.
So, what did I do instead? I went to the American University library to get my Wesley ID activated to be able to use the AU library. I came home and made myself a dinner of roasted brussels sprouts and a baked sweet potato, which was much tastier than it sounds.
I was feeling oddly exhausted, so I was even more glad that I didn't go downtown. I was asleep by 8. But before that, I tucked myself into bed. My bed faces west, so I had a great view of a glorious sunset, as I read Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. It wasn't the cultural/literary even that I had planned, but it was the one that I needed.