INAUGURATION EVE/MLK DAY
Today was interesting with highs and lows that honestly made me pause before writing this post. However, in being true to myself, true my experience, and true to the moment, I am documenting my day. Trust me when I say that I was truly challenged with my editing skills as I pieced this day together.
Initially, the plan was to participate in the Day of Service in honor of MLK’s birthday, however, the volunteer event of collecting canned goods at a school turned out to be terribly disorganized as we were alerted by phone. It’s a shame to see a moment like this in the Nation’s Capital fall to pieces for lack of organization. Oh well..
As a result, the early part of the day for me was spent reading, listening, and writing for various projects that I have undertaken while Justin and his mom decided to walk around the National Mall downtown. He was on a search for his long lost “girlfriend” Soledad O’Brien. He came back happy to share that he was able to take some very nice photos of the surrounding Mall area…including finding his long lost love Soledad. :-) He said downtown was already crowded with people doing much of the same thing that he and his mom did, just walking around and looking to see what’s going on.
Together, we watched The Oprah Winfrey Show. Man! Oprah has so much influence. Her show was a star studded event complete with the Vice President elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden (who’s faux pas about her husband’s options of Secretary of State or Vice President leaked to the world in a moment of honesty…lol). It’s so great to see so many people of so many colors and walks of life feel so inspired. Three simple words “Yes, We Can” has so powerfully resonated through the fabric of every soul around. It feels good to be here and feel that.
With no real agenda, I suggested we head down to U Street figuring that would be a place I’d like to see on the eve of the inauguration. U Street has carried so much historical significance to the black community through the Civil Rights Movement and has been revitalized as a mecca for people to gather, especially in celebration of Barack Obama, our soon to be President. We took the Metro which my native DC hubby had not been on in decades, having grown weary of the subway and other forms of public transportation after his early years in DC of having no choice. I don’t know for sure, but I figure it’s something that many of us do when we tell ourselves as soon as I get to a certain place in life, I’m not looking back. It’s a shedding of old and in with the new. I understand on some level, even though I think he is stubborn about it at times. ;-)
The Metro is busy but not more than I would have expected for rush hour. Talk about great people watching! Just like I observed at the airport in Columbus but on a larger scale. The array of people and outfits were beautiful. Some headed to inauguration eve balls and formals. Fur coats to fleece. Well to do along with those that have no choice. The Obama fever is in the air and everyone is on the same page. I almost want to push a pause button and freeze this moment because I know eventually this overwhelming feeling of unity will fade and perhaps divide.
We arrive at the U Street station and at least half of the Metro subway passengers exit. From the underground of DC we arose to life, music, and sounds of joy. On the corner of 14th & U, the epicenter of U Street, were drummers who had assembled and played nonstop in celebration to a crowd of onlookers. We got a decent photo that I will post soon.
We walked up and down U Street looking for a place to have a drink and maybe eat, recounting memories of our college years coming out to Republic Gardens to party and various other spots we’ve gone to over more recent years that are still there. We stopped in at Creme and lucked upon a table for two, just before the place got crowded and were seated almost immediately. I had my classic pomegranate martini (although this one did not even taste like a pomegranate martini) and my hubby ordered a beer and a shot to commemorate the occasion. We were vibing and having a good time. He’s so great at keeping me encouraged no matter what I take on, and as I recount stories of yesteryear, making me pause to recognize moments that were a job well done. I gloss over them so naturally.
Our forming plan was to meet up with a couple for dinner, but it was a bit compromised/sandwiched by our trip to U Street and a 9pm conference call he had to make (so my hubby, talk about work hard play hard). I could see time conflict red flags, but I let it be for the moment. We all soon agree to meet on U Street and they were on their way by car. We grab the check and leave our prime real estate behind.
To pass the time, my hubby stopped for Maggie Moo’s ice cream. For me, that always conjures up memories of Baltimore and being in Fells Point. We sat and enjoyed each others company as he had ice cream. Eventually we got up and decided to walk some more. Times a ticking and the traffic is fierce, but we’re enjoying ourselves so much that I don’t think we were worried at that time. We traveled towards 14th and U and stopped to watch the crowd that I mentioned earlier who had gathered to watch the drummers’ perform. No, they weren’t black kids from the hood (I know some people had to be wondering), rather they were white and a mix of men and women. In fact, a few women scurried passed us at the intersection to join their friends in the drummer’s jam session. They had a jacket or t-shirt wrapped around their waist that said “Brazil.” Perhaps it was a gathering of Brazilian drummers. I don’t know, and it didn’t matter.
After enjoying that for a while, we turned up 14th Street to walk. Just a few steps away from the drumming at 14th & U, we both stopped at a window with various Barack Obama photos, posters, portraits. They were nice. I did forget to mention that there were vendors galore along U Street selling t-shirts, hats, buttons, just about anything you could sell with the name Obama somewhere on it.
Again, time is ticking, but I’m having a good time although my spidey senses started to see time conflict looming and my head rolling, finger waving black girl self not far behind. LOL I noticed that we were looking into the window of an art gallery and the sign said “Open”. We poked our head in and they ushered us down to this basement level gallery. My hubby looks at me recognizing that we had stumbled upon an “Ifelicious” moment for the night, something he knew I’d enjoy and was happy. We had a great time looking through various historical photos, articles, artwork, and chatting with staff working that night (not sure if any were owners). We did the whole where we are from and all that small talk. I found a few pieces that I like but settled on a poster commemorating the occasion.
Time is still ticking and I’ve begun to feel a bit annoyed and hungry. It’s one of those overcommitment scenarios that takes a whole lot to end pretty. In my mind, we were perfectly happy on U Street and gave up a prime table for two where we could have had dinner amongst ourselves and avoided this scenario. I’ll spare the details, but the couple ended up meeting us shortly after we left the art gallery. Now, we were on an impossible quest along U Street to find a place to eat (you know what I’m thinking at this point). So we jump in their car and drive to a few other sections of town that might be less crowded and landed at Chef Geoff’s over near American University.
We arrived just a few minutes before the now infamous 9 o’clock call so my hubby stayed in the car to take the call while we were seated. I’m not the happiest but willing to just go with the flow.
Folks, this was one of those silent dinners. You know when you remove one person out of the equation and realize that the only thing that binds you together as collective unit is the one person who wasn’t there, my hubby. I’m a chatter box and would engage in any conversation but they didn’t look happy nor willing to meet me in the middle from a conversation perspective. It seemed that way even when we met. The difficulties of relationships at times, I guess. We talk about default things like what we’re doing for tomorrow and work. Work. A four letter word. I will tread lightly here because…well…I just will.
They turn their attention to me. One even asked if I was interested in a position with their firm in Columbus. I engaged a bit, but my heart really isn’t there anymore. I love this notion of taking my writing as far as I can and can’t see myself returning to Corporate America in the near future. I shared my 6 month plan of trying to see where I could go and take it from there.
Silence. Awkward silence. Followed by a joint eyebrow raising, interrogation, judgmental type follow up questions like “so you’re going to keep this blog thing going?”
And, “stick a fork in it, we’re done” I’m thinking to myself. The minute I turn my life to follow a more creative, expressive route that still qualifies as a job, I should have been prepared for these moments. The naysayers. I was really starting to look at the time on my cell phone frequently now. I went back and forth between whether or not to play nice or just be silent. I just opted for silence. Let them squirm because my direction is unwavering.
Now that I’m the dinner oddity, things are just flat out uncomfortable. At one point, one of them makes a comment that they thought of me when they read about an inauguration ball tailored to artists that they thought I would like. It was either Artomatic or Art of Change. I wish that they had told me about it because it sounded right up my alley. The information was quickly countered by the other expressing/clarifying/confirming with their mate that they had no intentions of going to that ball, correct? Like why did this person even share that info? I’m thinking, “great! thanks. i wish i knew sooner because it indeed sounded interesting.”
I wasn’t a fan of the quick counter/exchange of glances across the table and at that point. Finally, they got to me. Why am I such a sensitive creature, I will never know. Here I am, again, the odd one out in a conversation and I began to question my current path. After all, this is fairly fresh so even I am not 100% sold. I also noticed that they must have blocked out my big fat blogger t-shirt that I was wearing with my site on the back even though I had mentioned it earlier in the eve as I referred to myself as a one woman street team.
And, yes, my hubby is still on the phone. He entered after we had appetizers, dinner, and the last stretch of uncomfortable silence. The room almost instantly picked up and we were on to jovial dialogue that I normally recall. I smile and laugh, but it’s overshadowed by a sadness and regret that we hadn’t just stayed at that prime real estate table for two on U Street.
In the midst of joy and festivity, I am now a bit saddened.
Don’t let them steal my sunshine…