Reentry observations- Washington DC

Reentry observations- Washington DC
March 29, 2013 Lainie Liberti

Our reentry to the US was jarring.

The experience was peppered with travel drama, exhaustion, but during those hours, we had a lot of time to people watch.


The DC airport was abuzz, the beginning of Spring break and it became our fish eye lens to observe the people who rushed through one end to the other. We were in super slow motion, no where to go, only time to observe. The world we left almost four years ago was represented here, in DC as a true microcosm. A microcosm on steroids, actually.

We had much time to sit, watch. I love airports as I’m always searching for those Love Actually moments, a window into people’s lives, love and connections with one another. My perspective was tainted through my tears and exhaustion, but it also gave me a chance to observe closely, actually stare at people through my puffy eyes and become still with what I was seeing.

I watched. I observed.

And I became aware of the way the energy felt  too. It was heavy. Noticeably so. I was certain it wasn’t just my energy I was feeling. It was all around me.

I watched.

I saw stylish, manicured people rush in and rush out.

I saw people , of whom I perceived thought they were very important.

I saw people dressed in very expensive clothes.

I saw people wearing expensive shoes.

I saw rushing.

I watched.

I didn’t see many smiles.

I didn’t see people connecting with one another.

I watched.

I didn’t see any of those “Love Actually” moments. Anywhere.

And I surely did not see much joy. Anywhere.

I watched.

I imagined this country’s politicians, their assistants, their staff, all rushing away from the Capital, eager to go somewhere else. I imagined this was the group of stressed people who were running the United States of America.

I watched.

Then, I thought about “primitive” peoples, of cultures past.

I thought of the people I’ve read so much about in my quest to  understand the cultures behind the ancient archeology that intrigues me so. I thought about the people who were the great builders of the many sites and the temples  ruins that surround our little house in Cusco.

I think about the stories of aggression among the rivaling ancient cultures from Peru, the Incas, the Moche, the Chimu, the change of ages and the movement from one great culture to another. I recall the tales of warfare, violence, aggression and the fight for territory and power.

I look at the people around me and wonder if they consider their practices, their lives, as trivial as some might perceive the ancient cultures of Peru that intrigue me so? I wonder if busy bodies of Washington DC’s airport might consider their own actions in the same manner we view people throughout history? Was I witnessing the actual tribes of Washington DC who inflict warfare, violence, aggression and the fight for territory and power too?

I clearly have a different feeling about the United States now. I feel as if I’m on foreign soil. I don’t perceive the energy as welcoming. I don’t feel that Love Actually connection.

Has the country changed? Or have all the changes I was feeling actually occurring inside of me?

We have reentered the United States.

But for now, we are  just visitors.


  1. I’m pretty sure the changes you feel are ones of perception. Your worldview has been changed by your “culturally-broadening experiences”.

  2. Don Jankiewicz 11 years ago

    It’s in you…Washington DC’s a gawdawful hole…& a terrible place to draw assumptions about this country-I’m reminded a few years back I was helping a one-legged diabetic woman get around a broken elevator to the D.C. Metro platform when 3 gangstas who looked around 15 challenged me to a fight. Really dudes? Anyway, Pomona’s still Pomona, Lainie

  3. Domini 11 years ago

    Hi Lainie,

    After a period of many months away from the U.S., I’m truly frightened at the thought of returning “home.” I think, like you, I’ve changed enough that it will be difficult to fit back into my old life. Even after brief vacations away from my homeland, I’ve noticed nuances upon returning that were different and not necessarily mirroring my values. The energy in any airport in the world is probably very stressful and “heavy,” since people are on time constraints and maybe worried about where they’re going or where they’ve been. Still, the atmosphere of the U.S. is so different than where you’ve been (and where I am). It seems there is more waste, more stress, and more overall apathy in the States. We have less time, less critical thinking, and less ability to fundamentally take care of ourselves. I’m deeply concerned about the future of my country. The only way to curb this concern is to keep my eyes tightly shut.

    Thanks for a great post and for your honesty.

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