"This is really crazy. Why can't we find any at all? There really shouldn't be anything else here."
Marilyn turned to the clerk in the History Museum's souvenir shop. "Really, m'am, I just can't believe it isn't possible to find a single thing in this shop that has been made here, in our country. My friends are from China, and they really want to find something to remember their trip and the delightful day we spent here in the museum, but they really don't want it to be something made in their own homeland."
"Mei-Xing, I am so sorry."
Mei-Xing has a twinkle in her eyes that matches the laugh that was fighting to escape the fingers pressed over her mouth. "This is just so funny. I know that my country makes many of the items sold in your shops, but I didn't realize we made all of it. I can buy this beautiful statue and remove the little tag on the bottom and pretend it was never there."
Jun was grinning, too, as he watched his sister turning over different items, examining the "made in" stickers.
The three of them left the museum, frustration written all over their tired faces. That had been the third souvenir shop they had visited in the last two days and it had all been a colossal waste of time and energy. Even the history museums didn't sell items made in their own country, instead of on the other side of the world.
As they walked down the Washington, D.C., street their heads swiveled, going from windows to skyline, and back. Included in the sights were street booths, with all kinds of things being peddled to the gawking tourists. They saw everything they could imagine, running the gamut from silly postcards, stuffed animals, tourist site maps, to hot dogs, and ice cream.
They continued walking around the city, enjoying the beauty of the cherry blossoms surrounding the Reflection Pond in front of Lincoln's monument. They ate cotton candy, and threw popcorn to the pigeons. They visited several more famous sites, including taking a tour of the White House itself. Their arms were filling with bags from the various stops they had made, but not a one of the souvenirs was made in America.
Mei-Xing sank onto a bench, leaned over and began rubbing the blister on her heel. "I think I need to sit for a while, I don't know which hurts more, my stomach, my head, or my feet!"
Jun laughed, "I told you to wear a hat to keep the sun off. But I have to admit, I ate way too much of all those irresistible delicacies we have been devouring the last couple of days. I am used to a lot of walking, I wore better walking shoes." Jun was leaning against a lamp post.
Marilyn had sunk to the bench beside her friend. She slumped back on the bench, letting her legs stretch out and her head leaning against the green metal back. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply. When she opened them a few minutes later she looked at Jun and saw he was staring at something. She turned her head the same direction. After a few minutes, she smiled. "I think we may have just found a solution to our souvenir quest. All that time we wasted, looking for something special, and there it is."
Mei-Xing turned her head and followed their gaze. After a couple of minutes she smiled, and nodded. "I agree, that would be a very good solution."
The three of them wandered across the park area and watched the artist at work. Then they asked him to do a sketch of the three of them, with the Capital building in the background. "Actually, sir, would you do three of them for us, please," Mei-Xing asked. "Then we will each have a very special 'Painted in America' souvenir to remember this vacation."
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