Welcome to my blog!

I'm a divorced mom with a teenage daughter and two pre-teen sons. Writing is my first love. When I'm not writing or working or playing taxi to the kids, I also toy with photography and baking.

So, basically, my camera rarely sees the light of day and my mixer stands in the corner in permanent time-out.

To see some samples of my writing, you can check out my website: www.csrickard.com

Monday, January 26, 2009

Back from DC

We arrived in DC late Saturday evening. My daughter and I were downtown Sunday and Monday to do the tourist thing. I didn't even know anything was happening on Sunday. We headed to the Washington Memorial because Jess (my daughter) wanted to see it. I heard a band start and we crested the hill, following the sounds. It went from a bunch of people around the Washington Memorial, to a sea of people from the its base to the Lincoln Memorial! We arrived just as the concert started and were able to see most of it from the huge screens they set up over The Mall.

Jess wanted to get to the Lincoln Memorial to see the show live. I told her "You and everyone else." After a brief moment of calculating her chances given the size of the crowd, she grabbed me and forced her way through the crowd to about 2/3 of the way towards the reflecting pool, where we reached a very crowded stand-still. We stayed there for about 15 minutes until she complained because from this area she couldn't see. I told her that it's better to go back than go forward in crowds like this and led the way. Sure enough, we got back to the Washington Memorial and were able to see the Lincoln Memorial (through my camera's zoom lens) as well as the screens.

We took 273 pictures Sunday and a bunch more on Monday -- Lincoln memorial, Korean memorial, FDR's memorial, Jefferson memorial, the White House.

The weather was in the 30's. Jess got all excited Sunday when it flurried a bit. She kept shouting "It's snowing!" I kept explaining that it wasn't snowing, it was just flurries -- she wouldn't listen. Later that evening she jumped on some white stuff outside the door of the hotel. I told her it was salt, not ice. She immediately stopped.

While we were downtown on Monday, it had snowed in Gaithersburg, MD, where we stayed. When we got off the metro in MD, my daughter asked if she could eat the snow...outside the metro station! It's amazing what you take for granted when you grow up in snowy weather. It's pretty funny, seeing these things through her eyes.

Jess and I woke at 3:45 Tuesday morning. I had already researched and marked our map with all of the Starbuck's locations in DC. I then circled the best place along the parade route to be: near the White House so we were avoiding Metro Center stop (the busiest metro station) and within a block from a Starbucks so we could have access to hot tea/hot chocolate and a bathroom. (I know -- I'm such a geek)

We reached the metro station at 4:40am. There was a bit of standstill traffic even that early, but it was due to some ill-thought planning on the part of MD police. The usual 3 lanes to reach the metro was shut down to 2 with 2 policemen directing traffic into each lane. When you reached the one parking lot, the officer would randomly direct cars into the 3rd lane to a third parking area. All of this was wasted time and effort if you realize that had they not shoved 3 lanes of traffic into 2 lanes, only to split out into 3 once more for no more reason other than having a human stand there and wave them into the third lane!

Anyway, it wasn't as crowded that early as I had feared. Ours was the first/last stop on that particular metro line, so it was nice because we could get seats easily that early. By the time we reached DC at 5:15, the cars were packed. We got off one stop before the Metro Center to avoid most of the people exiting at that one. What I didn't know was that you could only enter at a limited number of places along the parade route. We walked about 9 blocks (near Metro Center) only to be told that they weren't letting people through to reach the security gates till 7am. Keep in mind that I checked the weather on Thursday before leaving. Tuesday was supposed to be 38 degrees (F). A cold front went through and it was only 19, with a wind chill of 6. To put it bluntly, it was bitter.

We were dressed appropriately and also each brought a quilted blanked to wrap in and I brought a padded mat to sit on. As we stood waiting in line with everyone else to get to the security gates we had our blankets wrapped around us because the wind was just that cold.

By 7, Jess was complaining her feet were cold. I told her to wiggle her toes and try stamping her feet. I explained that movement helps keep them warm. The problem was we were in a crowd of people and couldn't really walk around or anything like that.

By 8, Jess said her toes were hurting, although she was trying to keep them moving. She wasn't whining about it or repeating it every 5 minutes though. She was smiling and enjoying being among the crowd and the excitement. We had fun talking to people and laughing at the way some people had dressed.

By 9:30 we were about 10 minutes from going through the security gate (yes it took us 2.5 hours to walk 2 blocks to the security gate). Jess turned to me and said "I want to go back to the hotel."

I just looked at her. She hadn't been whining or nagging about being cold or her feet hurting. She only mentioned it a couple of times.

I looked past the security gate and saw the empty stands they had set up. Saw the empty sidewalk where I had planned for us to sit to see the parade. Saw that we were minutes from having some of the best seats of the parade and best views of the President and First Lady.

I looked back at Jess. Her checks and nose were red. Her gloved hands clutched the blanket tightly against her body. A few wisps of hair blew from under her knit hat and ear muffs --- yes she was wearing both at the same time.

I nodded and led her back through the crowd and onto the Metro. After warming up on the ride back, I looked at her. "You do realize that you will never live this down."

She gave a weak grin. "Yeah, I know."

So, my trip culminated in watching this historic moment on a small, very poor quality television in a cheap hotel. Jess fell asleep sometime between Obama being sworn in and the end of his speech. I hadn't noticed till I turned around after his speech to say something and she was out cold.

I know...very anti-climactic. I would have loved to have seen him pass by. But, I don't regret any of it. We were in the huge crowd on Sunday and saw him speek then. We got to be part of that energy on Sunday and then again on Tuesday morning. People from Oregon, Texas, Connecticut, Florida, England, France, the Soviet Union, and China were around us. Everyone was excited, even that early Tuesday morning with the wind and weather as cold as it was. They were chanting his name, cheering whenever the cameras went on them, talking excitedly about when we would reach the security gates, planning the best routes to take to The Mall or along the parade, talking to each other about where they were from. Occasionally the cold was mentioned, but not often. Most were too excited about the inauguration to be worried about the cold.

The other thing I took from this trip that I hadn't expected, is my daughter's behaviour the entire time. She's 15, which means she knows everything, while I'm just a worrying, old woman whose totally uncool. About the age of 9 or 10, she started getting moody, especially in the mornings -- very PMS like, but for no reason at all. She'd laugh at home sometimes, but not very often. Her family just isn't that cool or that funny.

However, from the moment she woke up Saturday morning to leave, to the time we got home last night, she was the happiest I'd seen her since she was small. She would openly and freely laugh and have fun...with me! We visited the monuments and did a lot of people watching. Sometimes her observations were so astute with the people around us. Other times she was utterly child-like in her reactions to the frozen reflecting pond, snow falling, or seeing her breath when she exhaled.

We had the absolute best time. Watching her experience the crowds, the weather, the city, was the most special thing about the trip, I think.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just glanced at your blog and thought: Is this the woman I've read somewhere before? I liked the writing very much. -- JRT