Monday, May 26, 2008
(I was in Washington DC from May 8-11)
DC was an excellent stop on my trip for three reasons.
1) Washington DC has a lot of cool, free stuff to do.
2) I got there on my 22nd birthday
3) I stayed with Allie and her family
My meeting with Allie at the train station was a potential disaster. She knew that I'd been growing a beard:
So Allie, looking for me, sees this enormously fat bearded Michael Moore-looking man with a backpack and worries, momentarily, that I have gained half a ton of fat over a 2 week period. I am quite pleased to resolve her concerns by arriving and meeting her myself. So I hung out with her, looking conspicuously homeless with my beard and big red backpack - making for an odd couple, seeing as how she was in her fancy work clothes.
We spent my birthday visiting all of the cool monuments and memorials at night, fighting through veritable mobs of elementary school field trips. Favorites included the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and pond, the World War II Memorial and the FDR Memorial:
DC ended up being the Death of my Beard. We decided that it was too scraggly-looking and not full enough. Plus, every time I laid down on a pillow it felt like needles were being pushed back into my skin.
Being with Allie was, needless to say - well, I won't say it, because that's obviously needless.
So I was able to get to know Allie's family outside of a funeral for the first time. I am not sure that they got to know me that well, because most of them still refer to me as "Colton."
If I were to rename myself, I would rename myself "Nuff." Then, anytime I made a claim, I'd finish it with "'Nuff said."
Allie gave me Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales for my birthday. This has sentimental value, because we opened up one in California and read possibly the greatest tale ever spun: The Youth Who Could Not Shiver and Shake. It starts thusly: "A father had two sons. The elder was smart and could do anything. But the younger was so stupid that he could neither learn nor understand a thing, and people would say, 'What a burden that stupid boy must be to his father.'" The story includes this guy burning dead corpses on fire to "warm them up," playing hockey with a bunch of skulls, and the murder of a sexton who was posing as a ghost. Other stories ended kind of like this: "And then they might have gone back to the castle and gotten married, but I am not sure if they did or not. But I hope that their lives ended happily." There's something liberating and delightful about the unforgiving randomness in Grimm's fairy tales.
In DC, we also read "A Barrel of Laughs, a Vale of Tears," which is an incredibly postmodern picture book which was at once hilariously ridiculous and deep.
We spent a day in DC visiting some museums, including the Natural History Museum and the National Air and Space Museum. There were some pretty awesome sights in the National History Museum, whereas we were baffled in the National Air and Space Museum by the plane "Voyager" - we could not figure out which end was the front. Allie was convinced that it wasn't a real plane, just something the museum threw together for kicks. Apparently, it was the first plane to fly all the way around the world without refueling. It was raining really bad all day, and we'd forgotten an umbrella, though we passed about 27 of them on the way out the door.
I'd kind of like to recreate every event of that weekend here for you, just because the overall experience was incredibly pleasant and just so nice. But I guess I will just say that it was the highlight of my trip. I didn't end up really "experiencing" DC in the same way I wanted to "experience" all the other places I visited, but that's not really why I went to DC.
Not to wax too deep here, but this is a blog - when I first decided to go on this trip, I kind of envisioned it to be this kind of emotional journey where I'd be able to hook location and setting up with different human feelings, and afterwards I'd be able to map out Hope and Depression and Redemption and Angst. While I do think that different places have different "pulses," if you will, I think that that kind of human journey I was looking for is rarely tied to setting, and more often accomplished with people. Great distances are traveled by just being in someone's company.