Took a trip to Washington D.C. this past weekend with my partner and son. Couldn’t truly afford it. What was once a $50.00 round trip is now over two hundred. Ouch! $650 later the budget of a school teacher and an artist recovering from a yearlong illness is stressed. We’re scrounging through the money jar from selling a few dozen chicken eggs to help pull together the mortgage. Pop ‘em out girls! We need the cash.
So why break our back to make the trip? I come from a timid N.H. family whose eyes grow wide with fear at the thought of crossing the state line lest the heathen gangs wielding brass knuckles and machetes descend upon them, rape them, smash their car, take their wallets and then bludgeon them just shy of death, leaving them to survive and suffer with the memories. Therefore, it is extremely important to me that my son understand that there is a world full of culture and diversity beyond his rural bubble.
D.C. is no big leap, however my son’s favorite cousin lives there who is in her mid-twenties and loves our quirky little ten-year old. He adores her and her freakishly tall roommate. He’s as gay as they come and when he gets excited he reminds me of the huge blow up people that car dealerships have flailing in the wind to attract business. My son and he make ice cream together. This years flavor was basil. My sons idea and we all winced but it was absolutely delicious. They made garlic, rosemary and pine nut cookies as well. Another disgusting idea, but when my son sandwiched the basil ice cream in between and made what he called a pesto ice cream sandwich we all had a gastronomic awakening. It was quite delicious.
The weekend, however, was a series of unfortunate events to say the least.
Day 1: My sister-in-law suffered from dehydration after a day of walking up and down the mall to visit the Martin Luther King Memorial, sculpture gardens and natural history museum. The latter two merely a glancing for me, being the only artist. I would rather have planted myself in the sculpture garden for the day. Anyway, her legs were possessed by cramps, twisting and contorting, shriveling up right before our eyes. It was creepy and no doubt painful. After an evening of constant water supply she recovered. Whew! Thought that was going to be a hospital visit for sure.
Day 2: The next day was open embassy day for the EU. So we all piled into my other sister-in-laws car and drove closer to avoid the metro crowds. After what felt like forever we found what we thought was a great parking spot right on the corner. My sister-in-law pulled around, tucked in really close to the curb and that’s when we all heard a loud pop and the car sank. Flat! Okay, we’ll change it. No Biggie. We unearth all the necessary tools and the spare, put on the parking brake as we are on a slight incline, and begin to raise the car. I loosened the lugnuts and notice that one has a special nut. I’d never encountered this before. Apparently, it’s requires a special key so that your tire can’t be stolen. This is when I know I am no longer the young city student I once was. I just leave the keys in my dumpy ole truck. So the search was on for this lug key. A secret serviceman stopped and gets out to help us find the darn thing and as he and my son are digging in the back of the car he finds a Smirnoff Ice, turns to my son and says “I hope this isn’t yours”. In jest of course, but my son being only ten and hyper fearful of breaking rules and laws had a fleeting moment of sheer terror. The key is found! I began to loosen the remaining lugnut, set down the lugwrench for a moment and heard a clang. The wrench slid down into the sewerage drain. Gone! So balloon man proceeded to flag down the first Honda that passes. They lent us their wrench. A sweet Irish couple looking to move to D.C. They have a scrumptious baby and delicious accents. So all the others are happily distracted while I continued to raise the car. It’s up and I asked my partner to lift the tire off and just as she is about to, the teenie jack began to list. The parking brakes failed to hold and the car rolled off the jack stand. Kathump. It was time to call AAA. So I waited with the two sister-in-laws while the others went to the embassy around the corner. Tire replaced and ready to park, we realized our perfect spot wasn’t even a legal spot. We drove around and found another. Finally we can join the fun. As we are heading down to the embassy the others called to say it was a bust. Long lines, hot, and very little to do. My son and I split of to go back to the museums (I am so lucky to have a child that loves museums!) and the rest went to the Eastern Market.
Day 3: Sunday brunch. The sister-in-law with the car calls and cancels. They are ready to go home. Her daughter, who was also with us, has had an infection in her foot from some broken bone that wasn’t healing and currently the bone is dying. Ick! Any way, she was uncomfortable and her mom seemed a bit nervous about being in the big city and was stressed out from the tire fiasco. They were our ride to brunch. So we regrouped and ate somewhere closer. The other sister-in-law who is never quiet was. My partner gets a full glass of ice-cold water in her lap, my son did’t get his toast and home fries (a big deal to a ten-year old). So he pouts and while piercing him with my knock it off or I’m gonna… stare, I noticed he has a rash on his face. He felt fine but his face was red and swelling. We rushed to the pharmacy before our flight and pump him up with Benadryl. Minutes before we leave, my sister-in-law broke down in tears. Her son, who should be on medication and is difficult to relate with, has been angry with her for spending Mother’s Day in D.C. with his sister and not with him. He’d been threatening to keep her first and newly born grandchild from her. Rushed to catch our flight we do our best to console her and hurry off feeling less than satisfied with our trip.
Back home: Cat pee on the floor. (Cat is nearly twenty) Lawn far too long for this time of year. Son out sick from school the next day with puffy face which involved a trip to the doctor. Thankfully, it was just a reaction to too much sun or the sunscreen we used. Yet, we all can’t wait to go back. D.C. is a great city to visit.