If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know I’ve been engaged in an adventure with my mother. We traveled to Washington DC so that my mother could browse the Smithsonians until she dropped and then we would have dinner every night with my son.
Last Friday, of course, it started snowing. I nearly cancelled about 12 times, but kept thinking that once the storm was over, it would be okay, and we could go play. On Sunday morning, they were thinking they might be able to get the airport open by evening, so we took our chances and headed out, laying over in Chicago, with a flight booked the next morning.
Reagan Airport never did open that night. We ate in a passably good Italian restaurant called Carlucci’s, where I had the roast chicken in a subtle, lovely broth:
Titanic was on television that night, so we watched that for awhile and then went to sleep early, so we could be up at 3 to catch our 6 am flight. (Yes, I am a morning person, but my mother is not, poor dear.) The airport in DC was still closed, but everyone was hopeful, and we uneventfully pased the rest of the day. Miraculously, our bags actually arrived before we did, and were waiting when we got there.
There was a lot of snow.
but we were so happy to be there, we didn’t care. We called Ian and he came over to meet us for dinner at a vegetarian friendly spot called Busboys and Poets (who knows why?) and all was well.
In the morning, the Smithsonian and the Federal Government were still closed. There was a threat of snow, and tons on the ground, but it hadn’t started melting yet, so it was pretty navigable. We pulled on our snow books and layers and headed out into the day. Visited the International Spy Museum, which is like wandering around an espionage novel or many opening a bunch of boxes of Cracker Jacks. We had it almost entirely to ourselves, ditto the cafe. The weather was cold, but not intolerably so, and we headed down toward the Mall, which was quiet and beautiful in the snow. We wandered by the White House, and along the frozen-solid reflecting pond (I have shots, but can’t show you until I upload the other pics from my real camera, not the cell phone). We figured out the Metro well enough to find our way to Ian’s side of town and by the time we got above ground again, snow was going crazy. CRAZY. We were soaked by the time we got to his house, but I was still glad. One of my little things is that I like to be able to visualize my kids in their environments, so seeing his house is a big plus. (Also I got to kiss Hercules, the biggest cat on the planet. )
We ate pizza (New Haven style, which I’d never heard of, but was quite good) and then we headed home. The Metro station was without power, so dark and creepy and I grabbed my mother close to me and didn’t let her out of my sight. We were shipped off to the end of the line and then had to make our way back, and then slogged through the increasing snow to get back to our hotel, shed our wet clothes and fall into bed.
This was the view from our room when we got up:
Yeah. We didn’t end up doing much. I know you’re surprised.
And my confession is that I was very irritable about it. I wanted my mother to see the Smithsonians. I wanted to go with her to Julia Child’s kitchen, and I wanted us to have little conversations over tea and muse about history. It was a holiday for me, too, and I honestly don’t have time for another one. There was a tiny bit of business worked in there, a single meeting with my editor (whom I adore!), and I had to cancel that, too.
I would love to tell you that I’m always a good sport, but that would be a big fat lie. By yesterday morning, I’d had it with snow and soaking wet clothes and feet and not being able to see a single thing we wanted to see or go to the restaurants we wanted to go to or even have a halfway decent breakfast. There wasn’t enough space in my room to do any yoga. Ian was stranded on his side of town, we were stuck in a hotel that only serves breakfast and we were facing the prospect of eating ramen noodle imitations for dinner.
It would have given me great pleasure to bite off the heads of chickens and spit them out or something. Something big and violent and disgusting.
Instead I took my grumpy self to the fitness room and found space for some yoga, then walked (barefoot since I had no proper shoes) on the treadmill. I told myself we were getting the thing we most wanted: time with each other and Ian. We could make do with the herbal tea I had in my bag, and our books, and yogurts carried upstairs from the breakfast bar.
And we would have. But then some guys staggered through the front doors carrying six packs of beer, and a woman said there were rumors that Busboys and Poets was actually open, so we wrapped ourselves up like mummies and braved the winds to have a hot meal and a bottle of wine. This is my mother, with the cafe behind her, and below is the cafe itself. Really cool place. Check it out if you go. Excellent for the vegetarians in your world.
I grew quite fond of the place. Shelter from the storm and all that.
We carried wine back with us, and ordered a movie to watch on the hotel channel, and then this morning we awakened to SUNSHINE! And melting snow. The airport was open, so Mom’s flight was on time (we had sort of hoped for a bit of a delay). We bundled up and headed out to see the city coming alive again. But on our rounds we saw this at the National Portrait Gallery:
And my mother shot the photo, laughing, saying she was going to take pictures of every museum she didn’t see.
In the end, I suspect we will remember other things—the utter silence of the mall under the falling snow. The quiet camaraderie of braving the elements and a trip that turned out to be something other than what we expected. I will remember our time together. Me & my mom. Me & my son. My son & my mother
Have you ever had a crazy trip? Tell us about it in the comments, and I”ll choose someone to win a signed copy of The Secret of Everything.