Monday, March 26, 2012

Deconstructing D.C.

I spent this past week in our nation's capital. It's the first time I ever had the pleasure of going to D.C. It was...nice? Ish? I guess?

Here's the deal: there's a reason large cadres of high schoolers go on educational trips there. They go, they see all the sights, they can say they've done it, and they never have to go back. Once you've seen every memorial, they aren't changing.

As my wise beyond her years stepsister said when I was debating between day drinking irresponsibility and seeing more museums on my last full day in the city, "Museums are full of a bunch of old shit that will still be there- hence why they're called museums..."

We had fun though, don't get me wrong. We got in on St. Patrick's Day at around 7 and once we made it to the apartment my dad rented in the funky neighborhood (he likened it to the Lower Haight) of Adams Morgan, we grabbed a bite to eat and then watched, from a safe distance, the shit show that is that holiday. The weather was fantastic and only reinforced the fact that I really need to move to a place where I can rock short sleeves and shorts at night. It was a bit muggy but tolerable.

The next morning we slept in because, well, jet lag and being out drinking on St. Pat's 'til 2 a.m., and had an overpriced not that excellent kind of annoying because of my dad's coworkers in town for a conference dinner at The Palm. After that though we headed to a bar with a small group of dad's coworkers around the corner. This would be an unexceptional story except that I, still on the right side of sobriety, got completely flirted with by the bartender. This nnnneeevveeer happens to me. All of my flirting stories usually start with me doing the flirting after a few (several) cocktails. Though, in total fairness, I am often oblivious. As I was in this case. My stepmom caught it before I did and told me of his interest when her and I went to use the bathroom at one point. I had no idea and frankly, kind of dismissed her. Yeah, sure, whatever, I thought. When we were about to leave at my dad's suggestion the bartender said, "Does he speak for you?" Uhhhh. No? But I left.

And then I went back. I talked it out with my stepmom as we walked down the black and it just seemed like a good idea. Vacation decisions! He was a built like a shed former college wrestler and as the manager, him, and I were the only people left in the bar at that point, I got to drink for free and go behind the bar. It was a pretty ridiculous evening. Nothing happened, other than an exchange of phone numbers, a single text to me on Monday which I responded to and didn't get any further response, me overanalyzing it the rest of the week while also telling myself to stfu about it because I was on vacation, a text to him on Friday evening that he responded to on Saturday after I'd already landed back in S.F. It was some missed connection level bs but I liked a) not being rejected b) not being around long enough to screw it up and c) the attention. (What? Sometimes I'm simple and just want a little freaking validation, mkay?)

That Monday we finally started doing the touristy shit you're supposed to do in D.C. We went to the Natural History Museum where I saw the Hope Diamond and my stepmom played with butterflies. We walked down the grassy part of the mall and around the Washington Monument. We again met my dad's coworkers for dinner at this famous D.C. restaurant Georgia Brown's, which I found to just be fair. (Growing up in SF really does warp your sense of good food.)

And it was then that I started to develop an opinion on this city: I didn't really love it. It's just...weird. The argument I got into with my dad's one jerk coworker is that he kept insisting D.C. is the South. As someone who resided for quite awhile in THE South, I disagreed. As this guy is a jerk, and wrong, he wouldn't relent the point and carried on the argument for two consecutive nights to the point that I was willing to just let him have his opinion. (This whole argument started because he maintained that the service in D.C. was slow because it was the South. It was not Southern and gentile, it just effing sucked almost everywhere we went. This ended up being used as a joke a lot later in the trip. "You know, it's because we're in the South" we would say whenever something didn't work out.)

D.C. doesn't really have an identity, in my oh so humble opinion. It's not really Southern. It's not really Northern. It felt very young and very transient. In supposedly representing our entire country, as our seat of power, it doesn't do a very good job of representing any of us.

My opinion was that the elite privileged over educated of our country, the gunners* from every law school ever, get their post grad jobs there, meet other like minded type A government workers and then take their talents back home to get jobs. That's why it felt very young. And since it's the seat of the federal government, it has transplants from all over the country, hence the lack of identity.

*Gunner is a term used in law school a lot. I thought it was common usage but my dad asked for a definition so: Know the person who raises their hand and asks a complicated question at 3 on a Friday? Gunner. Wants to curry favor with profs and always has to talk first and misses the trees for the forrest constantly in asking detailed questions? Gunner. Sits in the front of the room and doesn't roll their eyes at everything? Gunnnnner. This is the kid that was voted most likely to go into politics. He's now working on The Hill in D.C. for a Congressman and is insufferable. Effing gunners. (We also love gunners because they take all the attention off of us opposite of gunner types: slackers.)

For example, this girl running the mall (oh, and everyone freaking runs. It's gotta be one of the healthiest cities in the country. Stupid healthy gunners.) was wearing far to much makeup and had in pearl earrings as she did so. I was unsurprised to find a UGA motto on the back of her t-shirt. Post grad gunner living the young, single life in D.C.

But the weather was great, the cherry blossoms were in full bloom and they do have a lot of shit to see. A LOT.

We visited the zoo, which was near where we were staying. We did the silly hop-on-hop-off tour to get the lay of the land. Saw the White House, saw but didn't go in the capitol building. I went to Air and Space which I loved and only spent a half an hour there, could have used several more. We went to Mount Vernon (do not go), Alexandria (been to Sausalito? You're good.) and did the changing of the guard/Kennedy's tomb at Arlington, where, again, because we are late moving people who were hustling to see the final change of the day I didn't get to check out my grandmother's name at the Women's War thingamajig (I'm an enthusiastic traveler who uses correct names of things).

We did all the various big granite memorials, mostly at night. My favorite, by a lot, was the FDR memorial. It was just really pretty and moving and meaningful. Full blooms of cherry blossoms didn't hurt the ambiance. If I was the kind of person prone to tearing up, I would have done it there.

But it felt like a lot of list checking off. "Yes, okay, I did that thing I'm supposed to do." We're horrible half/quarter Jews because we decided early on we were skipping the Holocaust Museum. I get it. It's a very very important historical moment that has an amazing museum but I'm on vacation. I studied the holocaust in depth in undergrad. (I took an independent study with an amazing history prof on the subject my final "I really have to graduate already" summer at LSU.) We just didn't want to go do what we knew would be a very heavy, very down part of history.

We had unexceptional meals at a lot of places and then fantastic meals at Ben's Chili Bowl (no, seriously, sometimes life just needs a chili dog and cheese fries), a neighborhood joint called The Little Fountain which had AMAZING bread pudding, and Eatonville on our way back from the sucky tour of Virginia. But for a week of traveling that's the best I can say about the food? Not good, D.C.

I was a little antsy on our final Friday. I didn't want to spend half the day sitting around the apartment. I wanted to be out and about. I was also super duper amped for the hockey game we were attending that night because really, to me this was a trip to do some stuff and then HOCKEY. My irrational, all consuming love of hockey.

I took off solo, which I have to admit sort of loving. I made a mistake and got on the wrong metro line but whatever, it's all an adventure when solo and instead of going to Air and Space again I ended up in Judiciary Square which LOL is NOT where the Supreme Court building you want to see is, for future reference. I was texting a bunch with the bestie and the stepsister, who gave me the above quote and I acquiesced, having a couple drinks and lunch at Clyde's next to the Verizon Center and then heading into the National Portrait Gallery. So I both drank and did the responsible thing.

That ended up being serendipitous and I really enjoyed NPG. I spent hours moseying around there. I then met up with my dad and Angela before the game. It was a little tense. I think 5 straight days with the same people that inevitably ends up happening.

We went to the game. Despite the heartbreaking loss to the Jets in overtime after being up 3-0, my hockey boyfriend got in a fight and the game was glorious. We drank much beer and chatted endlessly and marveled at how visiting an new stadium is a bit like being in a foreign country. You don't quite know what the customs are so you just try to respect them. (They yell "red" really loud during the anthem.) Ovi had an ovi goal, and despite the loss it was great. I loved everything about it. My stepmom had joked earlier that she wanted to move into the Botanical Garden that they had visited that day. I said I'd be happy with living at Verizon Center (I'd just skip Wizards games).

Except then I was SUCH a bad sports fan when we left the arena. I'm totally embarrassed by this, you guys. I was that asshole fan you hear about when people talk about asshole fans. Ugh. We're now at street level outside the stadium, in the crush of people, and this early 20s guy is trying to make his way into the crowd with his girlfriend. He's on crutches with a broken foot, still in a full cast. No walking boot, no nothing. I see his Jets t-shirt and say to my stepmom, "I should just KICK him!" It was a momentary lapse in my general staid sports decorum. I just said it to my stepmom but I'm sure all the beers did something to carry my voice and when I'd walked a few steps, the girl accompanying the guy yelled, "ARE YOU SERIOUS?!" Even over the huge crowd of people I heard her. I shouted back that I was of course joking. I mean OBVS. But not obvs and it was an awful and mean thing to say. The more I thought about it it was a seriously tacky and classless move. Sorry, Jets fan! My irrational love of sports and hatred of my team losing usually just manifests on Twitter. My sincerest apologies and I will not do anything so obnoxious ever again. At least not as far as even hinting at harming another in the name of sports. I can't promise there isn't table dancing and alcohol consumption in my future.

In fact, now that we are done with our educational vacation, I am back home, back on the wagon, working out as much as possible, to get ready for the exact opposite of a D.C. vacation: a trip to Vegas in June. That is gonna be an unmitigated shit show and I can't wait.

We left D.C. the Saturday after the game, bright and early, and then spent several hours moseying around Dulles because the weather in SF had delayed our flight. I got home to rain after 70 and humid. Thanks, San Francisco!

All in all, I'm glad I went and experienced D.C. Since those museums and monuments will be there for all of time, I don't have to go back for a very long time. I would like to get to see my hockey team again and next time take a trip to Annapolis, which I was itching to go to (for reasons) and I do still know where the flirtatious D.C. bartender works so it's not all bad...

1 comment:

  1. You know the famous JFK quote about DC, right? It's a "city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm." That hits it about right, IMO.