Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Inception

Andrew and I 
The day greeted me at three o'clock in the morning in the form of a blaring Maroon 5 song playing on my alarm clock radio. 

After a half-decent bowl of protein Cheerios and a makeshift attempt at giving my luggage one more run-through, I said goodbye to my partially awake mom and joined my dad and older brother in the chill-kissed car, mostly just thankful that they were all kind enough to wake up at an outrageous hour for no other reason that to see me off. ( My family’s the best.) Out of the three of us, no one was fully present during the ride to El Cerrito High and I silently endeavored to trick my body into surviving the next fifteen hours on the three hour nap I had just taken. I wasn’t exactly tired but a good majority of my energy and conscious thought was reliant on the fumes of the previous night’s adrenaline rush.

My dad and I 
Stepping out of the car back into the icy wind of the early morning felt like a second wake-up call. I had decided to wear shorts (which only now do I realize was probably a bad judgment call) but didn't really care since my legs had numbed quickly anyways. Once the typical formalities and ceremonious picture-taking had been taken care of, everyone said their final goodbyes and the shuttle was loaded up by our handsomely dressed driver.

I wouldn't call myself a frequent flyer but I've been to the airport enough times and flown on enough planes to know that I'm not a fan. For some reason, when going through the security check, I'm always anxious to see if they'll find anything suspicious in my bag despite knowing its exact contents. I'm also the kind of person who feels like they'll be on the one plane that crashes or has some terrible disaster happen to it and end up dying in the process. Fairly morbid thought process, I know. I'm working on it. 

We all stopped for a quick and delicious breakfast at Ándale before boarding and I picked up some Dramamine as insurance for my unpredictable motion sickness. I figured that it wouldn't hurt to have some on hand in the unlikely event that something would actually happen since I forgot my own at home. 

Last time I checked, airplanes were not nearly as fancy as the ones that I flew on today. Even the safety video was made into a catchy song with dancers I recognized from So You Think You Can Dance - of all shows - and America's Best Dance Crew. In addition, each seat was equipped with a fancy touch screen located on the back of the seat directly in front of each person and a handheld remote control device that fit conveniently into the armrest. Passengers were invited to watch satellite television, play games and listen to music - the pinnacle of coach luxury. I, personally, watched a bit of Ace Ventura and a Seinfeld rerun. 

I was graced with the aisle seat on our flight to Dallas and sat with Mark and Saba. Since I didn't sit with any strangers, I figured I'd catch up on my sleep and wait for our next flight from Dallas to Washington D.C. to chat it up. Luckily, I wasn't the only one, and Saba decided to catch some Z's as well. Every now and then I fiddled with the provided technology but for the most part just slept.

About three-quarters of the way into the flight I woke up from my nap with a crick in my neck and the all-too-recognizable feeling of nausea. Slightly panicky, I looked around to see if the bathrooms were open, and of course none were. I had taken one chewable Dramamine tablet before the start of the flight and hastily chewed and swallowed a second one as a last-ditch effort to spare Mark, Saba, and the other surrounding passengers of any potential wrath.

Luckily, the crisis was averted and good ol' Dramamine did its duty. *motions salute* 

Upon landing in Dallas and grabbing a coffee frappucino, I  desperately hoped that my nausea would be banished for the rest of the day and boarded the next flight. Once more I sat next to Mark, except this time in the window seat - my favorite seat. And once more I fell asleep for the majority of the short flight. I would have started a conversation with the good-natured stranger sitting next to Mark but he had his earbuds in the entire flight and was sleeping as well so I figured I wouldn't bother him. 

The second flight was short and sweet and so was the wait for our luggage in baggage claim; It was sublime. Not in all sixteen years of my life had it taken only two minutes for my luggage to be hauled out onto the carousel. Clearly, I was pleased. 
Lincoln Memorial (inside view)

Lincoln Memorial (outside view)
An aphorism 
Symmetry at its finest. 
We took another shuttle to our hotel before jumping straight back into the (literally) monumental world of D.C. and its pleasantly surprising weather. As a cohort, our first stops were the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington monument. I had seen both a few years before but seeing them again made it feel like it was just yesterday. We came at the perfect time when the sun was starting to set and the natural lighting was beautiful. After seeing them a second time, I grew more appreciation for the beauty of the symmetry in the monuments and their reflection in the nearby bodies of water.

Beforehand I had been interested in each for their historical value and tourist-y appeal as opposed to the aesthetics and craftsmanship. Although there is definitely something to be said for the historical importance of both monuments, I had never previously considered anything outside that realm. And so, looking around, I felt like the kid who lagged behind the rest of the group, too busy trying to soak everything in. As we continued on to the Vietnam veteran memorial wall and the Korean War memorial I couldn't help but wonder what the creators' original intentions were in placement and other details in the memorials. How closely did they match my own interpretations of the haunting representations of deceased soldiers? Was it even important whether or not they did? 

Korean War Memorial 
We also checked out the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) memorial, my favorite of the two being the latter, although they were both fantastic.

What was so striking to me about the FDR memorial was its use of juxtaposition. Many would say that FDR was a strong and powerful leader who influenced America in a multitude of ways and maybe even pulled it out of the Great Depression but at the same time he suffered from polio paralysis and was, in his natural state, in a wheelchair. The memorial itself, constructed of concrete and jagged rocks, seemed to symbolize this strength and power, and at the same time was contrasted with delicate details like Braille to accompany plaques or inscriptions and the overall ramp construction of the entire memorial (that made it easily accessible to viewers in wheelchairs) that highlighted the disability aspect of the memorial in an applaudable way. I distinctly remember seeing one large metal statue of FDR sitting, and thinking that the most powerful part was the somber expression on his face. Perhaps I could be reading into it a little too much or making stuff up but I figured a fairly in-depth reflection was overdue all the same, just to spark a little curiosity and thought here and there.

The other beautiful thing about the monuments was the difference in the way they looked at night and the way they looked during the day. Lighting seemed so crucial to each memorial and monument we visited and as the sun started to set, each memorial relied much more heavily on the strategically placed lights that were built-in as opposed to the natural daylight, highlighting interesting things that could have gone unnoticed but at the same time leaving out other details that could be seen during the day. It also made picture taking a lot more fascinating.
Braille details at the FDR memorial
All of this reflection made everyone a little hungry. Plus, it was around like 9:45 and none of us had eaten dinner yet. We decided on hailing a taxi back to the area around the hotel to find something to eat although the task proved a bit more difficult than we had hoped. Realizing that most of the restaurants and stores had closed around 10, we settled on a Safeway dinner. Blinded by the immediate joy of being told "Get whatever your heart desires," we milked Safeway for all its worth like kids in a candy store and bought a cheesecake, containers of potato salad, iced teas, Gatorade, hoagies, wraps, chicken, salad, and a slice of red velvet cake to seal the deal before heading back to the hotel.

I suppose a self-induced food coma was the only way to start off the trip right.
In the night

On the lookout (FDR memorial)


  1. Wow, what an amazing experience! And such a wealth of history to reflect upon...!

  2. Wow, what an amazing experience! And such a wealth of history to reflect upon...!

  3. Wow, what an amazing experience! And such a wealth of history to reflect upon...!