Washington, D.C. & Beyond

Author’s Note: I meant this to be a day-by-day, but, as so often happens when I plan or make a commitment to this space – I failed. So…while Saturday was actually written on Saturday, the rest…is not actually on the day-of.

I traveled to D.C. early Saturday, in advance of a conference I am attending Mon-Thurs for my work.

Saturday

I’m sitting here in D.C., in a little studio AirBnB, snugged beneath one of the stately brownstones(?) that line these lovely, tree-lined streets. I spent all day walking this neighborhood and the ones nearby (7.5 miles!) after arriving at 9 this morning. I had gotten up at 4 a.m. to catch my 6 a.m. flight here, after getting about 3 hours of sleep…I might have been a bit punch-drunk most of the day.

But I wasn’t, not really. I was in the moment, engaged, marveling that I was there – here – when 24 hours ago I was at home in bed.

Travel does something magical. It takes us beyond the petty issues of our everyday, transports us somewhere, not only different geographically, but, if we let it, emotionally as well.

I traveled a lot with W when he was alive. He had the time (he was retired) and the ability (he was fairly set financially) to do so. But I paid my way, and at times I paid his way, because in the end, if you can still eat and pay the bills, what else is money good for, except to bring pleasure to us? And it pleased me to travel with him, as I believe it pleased him. We shared the financial burden, and we both benefited. I traveled with Adam a lot, too, or he with W and I, though with him, I mostly paid his way. He doesn’t have the resources to do so.

And now, I have a lover who (may have) the resources, but doesn’t have the availability – or at least the leeway within his primary relationship – to travel with me often. It’s left me feeling…well, lots of things. I think I may have hinted at that in my previous post.

Traveling on my own has not always been a positive experience for me. It’s one reason I quit flying – being alone for night after night, in a strange city, in anonymous hotels while I waited to be called out for a flight wasn’t healthy for me. I was anxious. Unhappy. Lonely. Not fearful exactly, but intimidated by the wide world. I can remember echoes of those feelings from when I was 16 or 17, and thinking about leaving the small town I grew up in to go to college. Even community college was a challenge for me to envision. I was terrified! I had moved out from my parent’s house when I was barely 16 (to live with a boyfriend), but I was paralyzed by the thought of striking out on my own, of being alone.

And yet, I did it. I wasn’t very successful at it – I found a new boyfriend fairly quickly and moved in with him, got pregnant, stayed another year with him and then moved to the Midwest (it was a bit more circuitous than that, but you get the idea) and then I met my ex and was with him for 18 years, before finding myself single (but with boyfriends) again. And throughout it all, when I traveled alone, I despised it.

I have, in the last few months, embraced it. My last trip to Chicago – no, the one before that – really showed me that I can travel on my own and love it! But that has happened with a lot of mindful effort and planning, and of teaching myself, of learning, new ways to interact with the world around me and with myself. Part of that has been true mindfulness. Really, truly being in the moment, experiencing each one deeply, and without judgement – even those when I do feel lonely or disconnected. It’s been a super positive change for me.

So, anyway. Here I am. When I first made my reservations to come to D.C. a couple days before my work conference, so I could do some sightseeing on my own, I hadn’t known I would embrace my solitary times as much as I have. But, even then, I wanted to …test… that particular edge, to see how it would feel, choosing this path. The Chicago trips were without a partner, too, but I wasn’t actually alone – I was there with my friend Ruby, and by extension her (and now my) friends. I’m completely alone here.

And…I am loving it, for the most part. I am loving allowing myself to explore and experience things purely on my own whims and through my own lens. It’s incredibly self-centered…and I’m okay with that.

My first day/evening. You can click on the image to read my comments and see the images as a slideshow.

 

My ramblings…

 

Tuesday

Yep, it’s Tuesday, three days since I last wrote. I am sitting now in my hotel room in the (quite grand) Gaylord National Harbor Hotel, where the conference I am attending is being held. I have the TV on to midterm election reports – all of which, so far,  are making me happy and giving me some small sense of optimism about our country again. Maybe we really can defeat the pestilence that has overtaken our government. Too late for the Supreme Court, unfortunately…unless we can impeach? I think I saw somewhere that if he is impeached, his appointees – including the Supreme Court – would be nullified. Not sure if I read that right though, and I am too tired to go look it up.

Enough politics, already.

I just left another “Welcome Reception” (an opportunity to network – bleh!) for the conference. I made myself sit at a table with people I didn’t know, and, once they engaged me in conversation, I held my own. But I will never be the glad-hander, the conversation-maker, the star at cocktail parties and meet-and-greets. It’s just not me. And there’s a big part of me that wants to shout: AND THAT’S OKAY! I don’t have to do cocktail parties well to be an okay human. To be likable. To be successful. I’m okay being my normal, introverted self. LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE! And stop trying to make me feel guilty for being this way! I do really well in my world. I am an engaging, interesting human being with interesting things to say – I don’t need to teach myself or to be trained to be better at socializing. Let those that do it well, do it. They have their strengths, I have mine. I don’t have to be like everyone else, and if I don’t do this one thing well, then I’m okay with it.

Sigh. Guess I had to get that out of my system.

In other news, I had a splendid day Sunday wandering D.C. Maybe not a good as Saturday (my back started giving me grief about halfway into the day) but I saw lots of things. Some of them are below. (Again, click to see in full size.)

Sunday

I have to post these pictures by themselves. This delighted me to no end when I found it. A sculpture titled “Neptune’s Court.” All these strong, beautiful – NAKED – men and women. In front of the LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. Can you even imagine this being approved and installed, today? In the age of the “Ten Commandments” being allowed in government spaces? This would be so much better than any biblical scripture.

And this…all levity aside. Standing before the Supreme Court, reading the inscription, brought tears to my eyes.

“Equal Justice Under Law.” What a travesty. What a lie. To see it in this day and age, to see it, knowing what our country has become…it fills me with such sorrow. Such bitterness.

“When I read those words, all I can feel is despair,” I texted V.

“I feel hope because to me they are stating a goal, not making a claim. It’s the thing they strive to do in spite of their fallibility.”

I wish I could feel the strength of his convictions; that all will be well.

Monday

Monday was a little tricksy. I had originally planned to walk the mile from the AirBnB to the nearest Metro station, and thence to the airport where I had scheduled a shuttle to go to the conference hotel, but with my back being questionable (dragging an almost 50 lb suitcase a mile was probably not in my best interests) I decided to lurch into the Uber universe for the first time.

I know, hard to believe I had never Uber-ed, in all the traveling I’ve done. There’s a very good reason for it, though. Besides having extremely poor facial recognition (possibly one reason for my social anxiety), I also don’t know squat about or recognize car models. I admit it – fear of not recognizing the vehicle or person I am supposed to be getting a ride from has kept me from using Uber in the past. As recently past as my trip into Washington D.C. to the AirBnB. I knew walking a mile through the city, dragging my suitcase, was not the smartest thing to do, but I couldn’t bring myself to try Uber, and to feel the embarrassment when I tried the wrong car or didn’t recognize the one I was supposed to take. So I walked. But! It was a lovely walk, and in the end I was glad to have done it, because it set the tone for the rest of the weekend, in which I ended up happily walking probably 16 miles over the two days.

But not Monday. I knew I couldn’t manage my pain if I tried to walk to the Metro, so I got an Uber share-ride.

Me: Huh, it says it will locate a “close” pick-up place for me between 9:25 and 9:45 a.m. That means I can call for it and finish my make-up and packing… *clicks on confirm*

*looks at app in between brushing teeth and putting on make-up* “Meet your ride in 3 minutes at…” OMG. Three minutes?? WHAT?!?

*shoves everything into bags, zips them shut, throws open the door*

IT IS POURING DOWN RAIN. AND I DON’T HAVE AN UMBRELLA.

*takes a deep breath* It’s an adventure, right?!?

*hurls self out the door, dragging 50 lb suitcase, and runs two blocks in the pouring rain to the waiting Uber*

It turns out it was not so difficult to figure out who my ride was.

So finally I arrived at the conference hotel. I was bedraggled and wet, but I was a success at Uber-ing! And my room was ready early, so I could get myself a hot shower and still have plenty of time to get checked in to the conference and find my first learning session that I was scheduled to attend.

Or I would have had plenty of time, if I hadn’t laid down for “just a minute” and promptly fell sound asleep after my shower, only waking 15 minutes before the first session started.

And then they couldn’t find my registration (even though I had received a confirmation email.) I had printed it out, but in my nervousness I couldn’t find it, and I couldn’t find a place to access my work email, and and and… Ugh. Finally, they found my registration. And forever more, to the people that run the registration, I shall be known as “Cha-Cha.” That’s an inside joke – suffice it to say that my boss registered me incorrectly. But regardless – I was in! And off into my first session. Later, I took a walk around the harbor area and went to a welcome reception, had some pretty good fish-and-chips at a pub and retired fairly early.

Tuesday (again)

And now it’s tonight and I am here writing, having a glass of wine and listening to election news, trying to decide if I’m ordering room service or going to head out again. But if I go out, will I have the energy when I get back to climb another rung on The Ladder?

Oh, have I mentioned the Orgasm Ladder? Based on a caning game that Sir David played with me in Chicago. But with orgasms. I’m up to four orgasms today.

Yeah, I thought I might have forgotten to mention it. One the first day, two the second, three the third, and so on, until Wednesday, when I must have FIVE in one day. But I guess that will have to wait for a less “wholesome” post…

Screw wholesome. Here’s some images from the ladder…

Wednesday

A-a-a-a-n-d it’s another day. I wanted to finish what I was writing last night and get the photos edited so I could POST the damn thing, but I decided to go out to eat after all, and when I got there, to have a Long Island Tea. Now, I’ve had Long Island Teas before. Many times. I have never had one that was that strong. I ate a burger and paid up, and wondered if I was going to make it back the two blocks to the hotel without making a scene by falling over.  Seriously. I never drink that much when I am alone, especially when I am traveling alone. I can’t remember the last time I drank that much, period. And it was just one drink. Jesus. Suffice it to say that I did not do any blogging when I got back, but simply fell into bed and crashed.

Until 4 a.m., at which time I woke, and couldn’t go back to sleep. And to top it off, I felt really fucking strange because – and this is why I try not to over-imbibe anymore – alcohol doesn’t play nice with my meds. I was super anxious and couldn’t go back to sleep. I knew I had a completely full day today of back-to-back sessions, too. It was awful. So I drug myself out of bed, put on workout clothes, and made myself go to the gym here in the hotel (which is pretty nice.) I would have liked to get a bite to eat to calm my jittery belly and nerves beforehand, but nothing was open yet, so I went in and did the elliptical for 30 minutes, hoping to sweat it all out of my system. I was dizzy and nauseous by the end, but having taken control made me feel better. A shower and breakfast with conference attendees later, and I was feeling much much better.

But what a fucking horrible feeling that was for awhile.

Today: Put my nose to the grindstone. Went from keynote speech to sessions and sessions and sessions, finally ending up in the “Product Roadmap” one at 4:30, so I could let my team back home know what was upcoming. I felt like I put in a good day’s work, and that I got some good information. And now, they are having yet another cocktail party up at the rooftop bar here. I kind of wanted to go up there, at least to see the view, but I cannot make myself people any more. I am tapped out. So, in a few minutes I am going to go get a bite to eat on my own, then come back here and pack and plan my day tomorrow, when I will be hobnobbing with strangers again and in learning sessions until I leave at 2:30. It’s sure to be another intense, busy day! Oh, but here are some pictures for you from my wanders around the harbor.

 

Home Again, yet another Saturday

And here it is, a full week later. I got back Thursday night, but in my defense, my flight was delayed, and then I got bumped to a later flight, so I didn’t get home until late late Thursday night. And Friday – guess what! I got to have a wisdom tooth removed. I had planned it this way, so I’d have a weekend to recover in case I needed it, and I’m glad I did. Adam picked me up from the airport Thursday, and V came over Friday, but I was doped up and full of cotton gauze – not exactly a sexy homecoming. It was nice cuddling with both of them, though, and knowing they love me and want to be there for me (as long as it doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s schedule – natch.) Today, though I burrowed into the couch and tried to avoid the world, my photog friend Allan came over and drug me out for awhile. Which turned into all day, and dinner too. I was super grateful he did. Pain meds mitigated the misery in my mouth, and it was just fun to be around him. No agenda. Some mutual attraction and affection, but…I don’t know. Undemanding time. if that makes sense. I’d like to find more of that.

And that, as they say, is that.

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