Though my time spent in Washington, D.C. was short, the day trip to my country’s Capitol was satisfying enough to warrant not only opinions but a noteworthy adventure. Crash coursing an entire city while being my own tour guide was exhausting, however with Google, friendly suggestions, and a new Spotify playlist, I managed. Now I know you’re tired of hearing this (or at least I hope you are because that means you’ve read numerous posts prior) but I think I deserve a good timing award. First off it was the Easter Egg Roll, a children friendly and celebrity packed event. Second, I was yelled at by a secret service agent and present for a CNN worthy story. Okay, I’m skipping ahead. Let’s back up a bit, starting with my expectations vs reality segment. If you’ve seen 500 Days of Summer, this will sound familiar.
First Expectation: I thought the trains would be a little more updated and in smaller stations.
Reality: They look like they haven’t been updated since the 3rd Lethal Weapon came out. I kept waiting for Danny Glover to come sliding down the escalator railing, gun in hand, while Mel Gibson dramatically punched out the train conductor that happened to be a terrorist heading for the White House. PLOT TWIST! The conductor is actually secret agent 007 and the president is an imposter.
Second Expectation: I thought it’d be colder for it being the end of March.
Reality: It was absolutely gorgeous. Cherry blossom trees were blooming as petals floated in the wind while I walked to the Washington monument. The monument stood on a small rounded hill millions of feet high, allowing me to get a stellar view with few clouds in the sky.
Third expectation: There would be less children.
Reality: There were so many screaming children and I almost tripped over one.
Fourth expectation: I’d be able to sit on my boyfriend’s, former President Abe Lincoln’s, lap.
Fifth expectation: There would be more people.
Reality: All I saw were children doting unwilling and exhausted human slaves.
Sixth expectation: Every security detail that worked on the White House grounds wore suits and Matrix like ear pieces.
Reality: One was wearing jeans. Jeans.
Seventh expectation: The White House would be ginormous.
Reality: Honestly I want a house bigger than that with my first advance from a book that’s bound to hit the NY Times Best Seller list by 2019.
Eighth expectation: I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere near the White House.
Reality: I was actually able to write part of this while sitting in the small park facing the front of the White House.
Ninth reality: Someone would tell me that I can’t drink wine from a water bottle before noon in front of the White House.
Reality: Never got caught because I’m stealthy as a mother fucker.
Tenth expectation: There’s no way the president and Mrs. Gun Show Lady Obama would be in town.
Reality: Not only were they in town but they read books to children in their back yard for the Easter Egg Roll to a crowd that included, but was not limited to, Christian Bale and Bey herself.
Eleventh expectation: I wouldn’t be able to meet up with the one friend, Kristy, I knew in the city.
Reality: Not only was she, available for dinner, we were even able to catch up over a couple drinks before my flight.
Twelfth expectation: Most of what I wanted to see wouldn’t be in the same area.
Reality: I only had to stay in one area and nearly everything was walkable.
13th expectation: I will somehow be nearly late for my flight.
Reality: I was somehow nearly late for my flight.
I was pleasantly surprised that the monuments and museums I wanted to see the most were within a three mile radius of each other. I googled a map, made sure my knees avoided children’s faces, and went from the Washington Monument to the World War II Memorial, over to visit my boyfriend (Abe), and took an indoor break in The Holocaust Museum. <Insert a plethora of tears>
The Holocaust is something that even as a child has always been one of the most heartbreaking periods of world history in my eyes. It’s not just Hitler and what he did, but how quickly others joined him in the attempt to dismantle an entire population strictly based on looks and religion. It’s sickening and though it didn’t take place nearly as other harsh periods in our world’s history, it doesn’t make it any easier to process. The museum was beautifully constructed with not only modern exhibits but short films and presentations. I spent as much time allotted trying to learn even more about it than I already knew. It was mesmerizingly informative and exquisite.
After the museum, I hiked to the White House and stopped in the park facing the front lawn to relax, write, and just sit under a tree for a while. I had my headphones in, wine in hand, and was happy as a clam until I heard an officer yell, “You,” with his finger pointed directly at me and laser beams shooting out of his eyeballs, “Get out of here! Everyone out of here, all the way back to H Street! We’re shutting down the grounds!”
I looked up to see people swiftly walking away from the White House as police officers and secret service agents donned in bullet proof vests aggressively directed the crowd as far away from the White House as possible. At this point I had no idea what was going on but knew that slowly getting my stuff together wouldn’t sit well with them. I stashed my wine as I grabbed my tablet and tacked on to the end of the crowd, consistently turning to see what was happening. The once populated grounds were completely bare and from a distance I saw a sniper on the roof of the White House ready for action and that’s when I thought “Oh shit this might actually be something serious”.
As it turns out this was no fire drill or routine excavation but a motion to evacuate the grounds due to a gunman opening fire on the south lawn of the White House. Crazy, right? Anyway, I rushed to the nearest local coffee shop for midday fuel for my body, mind, and phone while I was bombarded with much appreciated texts of friends and family concerned for my well being. As it turns out they knew what happened before I did and he was caught almost immediately.
After winding down I walked to this cute free range style restaurant suggested by Kristy, as we caught up over delicious food and beer. Pushing my luck on time I decided to stay in good company and venture to a cozy happy hour spot with her near by before calling it a day.
I rushed to the airport and got through security with seven minutes to spare all while managing to get a front row window seat with the sunset to my left as we cruised back over to the my Midwestern apartment in Chicago.
Washington, D.C. wasn’t exactly what I expected in some ways good and others not so much. The city, though warm in climate, felt rather frigid environmentally. Even though I only spent my time downtown and I know there is far more to see than just Capitol Hill, I can’t say that it’s a place I fell in love, or even in like with. I enjoyed the museums and the monuments were breath taking but I saw the city as just a new experience and something pretty to look at. I don’t expect to love every place I go and I’d never been intrigued with anything remotely political. Maybe it’s my chill laid back attitude or maybe I just need to go for a longer stay next time but regardless I think I know my way around short time travel. I wouldn’t mind going back but next time it’ll be strictly to see the lovely people I know live there. Oh, and maybe a few more museums.