Friday, September 6, 2013

When All Else Fails.....Escape!

Well, I was in such a sad, lonely place that I had to escape.  I didn't know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go, I just needed to get away.  As I thought about it, I realized that the last really good time that made me feel alive and involved, and wore me to a frazzle, was when I visited Jim and Anthony in the DC area several years ago.  So, on the spur of the moment on a Sunday night, I emailed Jim and invited myself!!  They were very gracious and welcomed me with open arms.  As Jim said, "You're family....we'll put the small pot in the large pot and add water!"  I'd never heard that before and I loved it.  So, I set about making plans, not that anything would qualify as "a plan".  I did everything backwards; at times I felt like I hadn't done this (traveled) before, but it all worked out. So, on Thursday morning (7:30AM), i took Amtrak from Savannah to Union Station in DC. These are not European or Japanese trains....this was an 11 hour trip, but I was actually looking forward to sitting there, looking at the scenery and chilling.  The trip up was very pleasant, but the trip back, from 7:30PM to 6:45AM, was as one would expect.  Even so, I had pleasant and interesting seat mates, which made it all tolerable.

When I got off the train and walked from the platform to the escalator leading to Union Station, the first people I saw were Jim and Anthony.  We went straight to Uno"s for dinner and caught up as quickly as possible....non-stop gabbing!  It was great to see them again!  From there we went to their place and it wasn't a late night for me.

Jim had to work on Friday, which was a dark, drizzly day; so Anthony and I had a leisurely morning before heading to National Harbor. We browsed around there a bit before taking a boat to Alexandria, where we shopped a bit and had a Starbucks coffee.  We were on a little tram back to the boat when someone asked where we were from.  When I said HHI/Bluffton, half the tram spoke up.  One group vacations here regularly and another fairly stoned young man had dated the daughter on a major car dealer here.  It gave him such a good feeling that he came over and shared his headphones with me....Led Zeppelin!!  Once back at National Harbor, we had a nice lunch at the Gaylord before heading home.  

While we were out having a good time, Jim was busy making plans for the evening.  He got tickets to The Twins Jazz Club on U Street.  That seems to be an area that was down on it's heels for a while but is now being revitalized by the younger set.  We thought the club did Ethiopian food, but for some reason they had switched to Jamaican......but would be doing Ethiopian again in the near future!  In any case, they had a wonderful lentil soup, and everyone was happy.  The music was very good and the band welcoming.  It was a very good night.  U Street was calm and quiet when we went into the club but, by the time we left, it was hopping.  Oh, to be young again!!  Needless to say, when my head hit the pillow I was out like a light!

Saturday was my ulterior motive for being in DC.  It was the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's March on Washington.  I have to say that seeing that march on TV 50 years ago had a major impact on me.  It seemed to express what we should all strive for, to love one another without divisions of race, religion, gender, whatever.  Anyway, Jim and Anthony agreed to go with me and we were on the metro with lots of was wonderful, my kind of thing!  We ran into lots of people to talk to and discover...I loved it!  Unfortunately, the event didn't seem to be very well organized.  There was lots of information of which trains to take, where to get off, etc., but details of the program were sketchy and sometimes contradictory. Then, when we got there we could see where we wanted to be, but the crowd control procedures made it impossible to get there.  During the whole afternoon, we saw only two "park rangers" who were trying to provide information, but I think even they weren't sure of what was happening.  Anyway, those who have participated in this type of thing before (Cheryl!) know that it's just wonderful to be with that many people of similar thinking.....everyone is in a good mood, jovial, kind, funny, and so's a wonderful atmosphere and I soaked it up.  I talked to a lady who graduated from the same university as I and I was interviewed by two delightful young ladies from Morgan State University who asked why I was there.....I figured she was motivated to ask that due to my age!!  Anyway, that is my kind of thing and I enjoyed it.  It was made complete when, on our way out, we happened upon an older man who had participated in the original march and was carrying his original sign.  THAT made my day!  His photo made the NY Times, but I got my own, and everyone (passers-by on the street) thanked him for being there then and being here now!

At this point, I have to interject a somber note......perspective!  That word was really made real when I realized that when Martin Luther King led that original march, he was 34 years old.  I was 16 at the time and he seemed like a middle-aged man to me. NOW that I am twice the age we was at the time, I realize the greatness and courage of a very young man.  I can see how much ahead of his time he was, the courage it took, and the sacrifices he and his family (unwittingly) made. I feel for his young children and wife who lived without him......and, as I've seen the speech again, there is a sadness to him.  Fifty years later, my admiration for him is greater and I hope we reach a point where his vision is made real.     

Anyway, after the march, we adjoined to the Meridian Oriental for "tea", which was a relaxing treat.  On our way to the metro (which I love!), we walked through the Smithsonian gardens...... lovely.

But, the day didn't end there!  We then went to a monthly dinner group that Jim and Anthony attend.  It was the birthday of one of the hosts, so the occasion was very festive. It was great to be with interesting and diverse people, though I spent most of my time talking to Jorge, who was running a B&B.  He was a trained chef, into composting, growing his own food, woodworking, and more......very interesting!  A good time was had by all and, again, I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

On Sunday we went to a Renaissance Fair.  I'd heard of them but never attended.  This was the first weekend of its opening and it will run through October. Jim and Anthony had their costumes, which were very good and people frequently asked for photos.  I was amazed at the number of people who came in costume and the quality of the workmanship.  The event was set in a lovely wooded area which lent itself to this type of thing.  It really was a nice way to spend the afternoon and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  There were lots of good musical groups performing throughout the afternoon.  Bagpipes seemed to be a favorite and, somehow, belly dancing worked its way into most musical performances.  It was a great people watching event and I would highly recommend it.  From there we went to Annapolis for a walk around town and dinner by the water.....very nice.

Jim had appointments on Monday morning, so I accompanied him as we were meeting his (and my deceased cousin, Cissy's) son Justin for lunch.  Though we didn't have as much time as I would have liked, it was great so see Justin and catch up a bit. He looked wonderful, having lost 40 pounds, and seemed to be working hard and doing well.  That was a high point....and I hope to see him again soon.

From there, Jim and I went to the National Gallery for the Mary Cassatt exhibit......just happening to pass the Democratic National Headquarters on the way!!  It was a quick visit to the gallery, but lovely and impressive.  There is just so much to do and see in DC.  I'm sure it has drawbacks, but it's hard to deny its appeal

We got back home just in time for me to throw things in a bag and be taken to Union Station....after a goodbye to Deva (left), Jim and Anthony.  I boarded the train at 7:30PM, arriving in Savannah at 6:40AM.  It was not a comfortable night, but the weekend was worth it.  I am so glad I did it as it broke the sadness I was in.  I stiil have moments of tearfulness, often at the least thing or most inopportune times; but, overall I do feel better.  I went through this tearfulness with my mother and was just over it not too long before Allan died.  That set it off again, but I know it will subside over time.

When I arrived home, I was greeted by a gang of turkeys, who strolled through my yard.  I took that as a "welcome home" and a good omen.

 I am happy to report that my mother did FINE while I was away.  She started giving me grief the day before I left, but I made a quick exit.  I checked on her via email and phone while I was away and all reports were good.  When I got back, she said she missed me and was happy to see me.  She has been getting up and dressed for breakfast, participating in activities and even getting to know other residents.  She seems much  most settled.  Today I took her out to get her hair cut and lunch at Wendy's.  We ran a few errands and she went back with no problem.  So, that may make it easier to do that type of thing again.

Unfortunately, my kitties didn't fare as well.  Actually, they were all okay, but the litter boxes were atrocious, Mama Mia's food dispenser was empty, the house alarm was not set, and....the straw that broke the camel's back.....when I turn the TV on, it was set to FOX news!!  The lady who cared for them works at the vets office and (supposedly) could give Gabby his injections every 12 hours, but I was not impressed with what I found.  While she was very nice and I would like for things to have worked out, I am going to have to find someone who can do it all.
Since being home, I've remained busy.....Living Liberally group, lunches with friends, Farmer's Market, my walking routine.....and to see "The Butler", which I thought was excellent.  I'm ready for some home time now, in hopes that it won't be as sad and unsettling as before I left.  I still expect Allan to call in the mornings......I know that none of us get out of this life alive, but it is so difficult to do without those we love. I'm thinking now of Dorothy Redpath, who just lost Bryan, her partner of a lifetime. I'm hoping she is okay and finding solace in memories of a good man and an interesting life.  We are too close at the moment to be able to put it in "perspective", but that will happen over time.