I’ve finally made it to DC. Three days ago I hit the road for another stretch of work and I’ve finally reached the last stop for the week. No more store visits, no more checking emails, no more scheduling. Now DC will be my home for the next two days as I find myself stranded for the weekend because of the company’s yearly schmoozing event. Until tomorrow night when I find myself insufferably surrounded by over-intoxicated travel agents talking about their clients and commission I will try to explore a city that in the past has only harbored bitter memories.
My first experience with DC was six years ago, when my family took visiting relatives from the Philippines into the city for a weekend of sightseeing and activities. It was around this time of year as well, and I remember the painfully piercing heat that just penetrated through the car windows and intensified on my legs. Tensions were high in the car as we were on the tail end of seven excruciating hours on the road and my two young nieces were already on the end of their tethers. I fail to even recall any of the sights as all I remember is a blinding rage at the congested traffic, the suicidal cyclists, and the blistering heat. I love driving. And I love being in places that are fun to drive in. DC is not one of those cities. So I made sure if I ever had to find myself back in this black hole of motoring, I would not be behind the wheel.
Therefore when I started dating a girl I knew from high school who was attending Georgetown and wanted to plan to visit her, I started looking at those discount Wi-Fi busses like Bolt or Megabus. That promised to at least be a much better commute in and I would have the added benefit of a nice hotel in the heart of the city only blocks away from the National Mall and I would have the weekend to spend with my girlfriend. Unfortunately this plan would never come to light as once her parents got word that I was planning on visiting her and that we would be alone, they forbade me to travel to see her. She broke up with me for a guy she met in school down here who she said was, and I quote, ‘had more money, a better body, and was Chinese’.
I haven’t been to DC since, and I’ve always held a deeply ingrained bitterness towards the city and my memories of it. Fitting that I would find myself forced back into its thorny grasp just a few weeks after the hardest breakup I’ve ever had to go through. Tomorrow is going to be just great. Aside from the night of corporate schmoozery, I have to deal with third wheel syndrome again as I tour some parts of DC with a friend and her new beau.
Oh DC, why do you hate me so.
I arrived just outside the city limits at around 1pm. Dropped off my rental car and was planning on hailing a cab to take me to the hotel as I did not want to deal with the obstacle of bringing a roller bag, gym bag, laptop bag, and a suit hanger bag onto public transportation that I did not know how to navigate. But wait, what’s this? The rental service is more than happy to use the car I just returned to drop me off at my hotel at no charge. Okay. I have a relaxing passenger side ride into the city while getting to know Carlton better. I even got some tips on public transport while in the city and places to go/eat. Huh. That wasn’t too bad.
Relaxing ride aside, I check in to the hotel. I find out that my family’s hotel club membership…thing…is on the reservation. Complimentary beverages and hors d’oeuvres from 5pm-7pm? Well…I did miss breakfast this morning. Complimentary breakfast?! I’ll be here two nights. That’s two breakfasts I don’t have to worry about. The lounge has key card access only. You enter your room key and if you’re authorized the doors slide out. Rocking the Gold status.
I decide to explore the city on my own terms for once and see what all the fuss is about. The metro station is only a block or two away from my hotel. It’s not too hard to understand. I end up at Smithsonian Station and wander around the National Mall grounds. I catch the Washington Memorial at sunset. I watch tourists, families, couples, and feel their excitement. Ride along with their purposeful stride as they see the sights. It’s hot. Like, still fricking hot. But I’m not driving, I have nowhere to be, no one to take care of, and I’m surprisingly okay with it.
Tonight I am on my way to the Old Ebbitt Grill, one of the oldest taverns in the city, for late night specials on their oysters and crab claws and whatever spirit speaks to me. I’m looking forward to it with a, dare I say it, sense of excitement and eagerness.
Look at me. Look at what’s happening in this godforsaken city. I’m here today completely on my own with a self-driven purpose…and I’m enjoying myself. I’m still heartbroken. I’m still lost and confused about why I had to be hurt by one of the people I’ve loved and cared for the most in my life. I’m still lonely. Tomorrow is still going to be tomorrow. But today wasn’t so bad. Today was a glimmer of respite that reminds me that I am supposed to be searching for something on my own and for myself. I’m still supposed to be #committedlysingle.
I booked the Spy Museum admission and Spy Experience combo for Sunday.
I think I can give this city a chance.
Man: 9 Loneliness: 2