Last week sometime, I was talking with my new female-writer confidant (LP2 is what I'll nickname her, since I already know 1 LP already.) and we had decided quite brilliantly that since we both worked for "governmental jobs" (hers more than mine, to be honest) that allowed us to celebrate the birth of Abraham AND George so luxuriously, it might be fun to check out the new Hip-Hop-infused art exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery in DC. (Seriously, what better way to celebrate the birth of two Presidents than to go back to their political stomping ground?)
I was really looking forward to hanging out with LP2 for several reasons:
1. LP2 has to be one of the most amazing writers I've ever read. Anything she writes about, I just have to read. It's ridiculous, honestly. To be completely embarrassing, I have to admit that I will scroll through the comment sections of Racialicious just to read her comments. Why? Because this woman has the ability to speak her mind in intelligent and graceful ways I can't even imagine. In short, I am LP2's biggest fan. (oh yes, LP2, it's totally true.)
2. Something about becoming closer to LP2 as a person rather than a writer, helped me open myself up as a writer again, surprisingly. Talking with her through emails back and forth and such, really reminded me of how much I miss writing and expressing myself. And how much I've been using so many other forms of communication that haven't been as faithful or as effective as writing has been for me in the past. I am just so excited to finally have a tie into writing community again. I felt like I had been pushed out, mainly voluntarily...okay, mostly voluntarily. By pushed out, I guess I mean, me - slowly over time - pulling away from writing because I felt it kept me from the doing of life. But now after all this doing, I'm starting to feel the only way for me to truly own it, and love it, is to reflect and write. And it's just great to be surrounded by people who get the same satisfaction, like LP2.
3. We were going to see a fricken' art exhibit, for chrissakes! How awesome/fantastical/amazing/brilliant/spectaculicious is that?! I hadn't been to a true art exhibit in years, unless you count that one time that that guy who was really into this scathingly bad art forced me to go to this tattoo-parlor-turned-art-studio with lots of men and women dressed in fancy clothes, drinking cheap champagne out of plastic wine glasses while walking around staring at photos of girls in their underwear with gag balls in their mouths and said "How extraordinary and deep! I'll buy FIVE!" ...so I hadn't really been to an art exhibit at all... in a LONG time.
4. This would ultimately be my (Count it!) 2nd time driving to DC by myself, in the daylight. You know, that little thing called sunshine where you're able to see your hand in front of your face without squinting really hard beyond the laser lights and the darkness and whatever trippy lighting effects you can think of? It was fantastic to be driving, especially on a random day where the weather was perfect 60 degrees outside! I literally rolled my windows down as soon as I hit 295, and turned the air conditioning on because the sun was so warm and delicious. I was excited to finally be getting out of the house, and driving to DC for a quick adventure. Not that I haven't been out of the house at all in the past few months (if you've been reading this and other blogs, you'll notice I have!) but this was just a little different. No familiar faces, no particular event that I was time-constrained to. I just knew eventually LP2 and I would go to the National Portrait and eventually we'd get so annoyed with the growling of our stomachs that we would succumb and gobble food to tell it to shut up.
Once I got into DC off New York Ave, I recognized where I was completely - it seems like anywhere and everywhere that I have spent oodles and oodles of my time has been off of New York Ave. The only thing about heading that way was worrying about the traffic, which wasn't as bad as I had expected it to be - possibly because I kept forgetting that it was a government holiday, and literally everything, save for the galleries and exhibits, on Pennsylvania Avenue was shut down for the day.
I just had to find parking. Ugh. If there is one thing that I have to say that I hate about having a car is getting to the place and then having to roam around for an hour to find parking. Because every one knows that all the cool places; ie: the only places that you and your friends want to go, are located in areas where there is NO PARKING and you have to find parking on some back alley or do "creative" parking - like parking just past the sign that is marked "No Parking ---> This Way Between 4-7 pm" claiming later when you get the ticket, "Well, half of my car was in the safe parking zone, doesn't that count?"
So I drove around. And around. I finally called Oppa out of desperation.
"Oppa, I am on Pennsylvania Avenue and I can't find parking anywhere."
"Uh? It's a holiday, EJ - you should be able to find parking easily. I suggest you try to park around the mall," my brother said over the phone, "How long are you here for? Will you call to have dinner with me and Esther later?"
"I'll try, I don't know how long I'll be here. I am checking out that new art exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. I'll call you later regardless, though."
After driving around several times in a square-shaped circle, and finding absolutely no free parking spaces, I finally gave in and turned into the nearest "Parking Garage Here" sign I saw. Thankfully it was at the International Trade Center, where they are equipped to deal with idiots like me who for the life of me even though the parking lot probably has fifty-seven signs showing me that I parked on C-2, when I finally go to get back to my car, I walk around aimlessly for fifty minutes, going on every single level and not having a damned clue where I parked.
But this parking lot was awesome. Instead of numbers, it had countries to designate what floor you parked on. How could I forget that I parked on Floor Russia? I could easily forget something arbitrary like C-3 or D-4, but Russia? Hell no. I'll remember that sucker.
I finally met up with LP2 after walking to the wrong damned gallery and having to turn around. There was some kind of mad-hatter accident or something, and halfway along my walk they had to detour across three more blocks just to get to a block I was originally only a few steps away from. Bah.
But ReCoGnIzE! was awesome. One of the most amazing things were the paintings by Kehinde Wiley. Absolutely off-the-CHAIN! Take a portrait of Napoleon, add a little Ice-T to the mix, and Boom! What a masterpiece. The depth of the colors and the shadows, and just the entire composition was breath-taking, and something that I can't wait to go back to and check out again (I am going again in March if anyone is interested).
LP2 and I had a great time, overall. We perused the gift shop, and gave in to temptation by purchasing the photo booklet of the exhibit (It was only $10!!! C'mon!!) and then headed towards Chinatown to pick up some grub.
That was around the time that it started to rain. And LP2, being the street-stepper and "urban-dweller" that she is, came prepared with an umbrella. My stupid ass, had not.
So after grabbing some grub and some MUCH NEEDED intelligent conversation (LP2, you astound me with your little book of what you have to do's and whatnots, you go girl!) we escaped over to Urban Outfitters so I could buy a hat to shield me from the rain.)
While there, we started talking about music. Mainly because when we first walked into the store, LP2 remarked that the singer they had playing in the background sounded like Rachel Yamagata. Which is exactly what I thought to. And then we started to say, I can't believe you know that person, and oh my gosh, yes, I have my MP3 player right here with me, let's stand in front of the aisle and play music for each other despite people walking all around us!!!
Good times, I tell you.
Alas, the day had to come to a close, and LP2 gave me a big hug and off I went to go and try to find the International Trade Center. Remember how I mentioned that I would not forget what floor I parked on? Well, I didn't, I wouldn't have lied to you. But what I did manage to forget, or rather, lose somehow was my parking ticket. And with that, my ability to find my sense of direction as to where I had come from in the first place. Fantastic. I spent an hour just walking in the rain, asking mothers ushering their children under big umbrellas, "Which way to 13th St?" and men who were jogging with their visors on to catch the raindrops, "Do you know how far it is to Pennsylvania Ave from here?" Thank God people in DC tend to be pretty friendly.
Thanks for making my day off an exciting one, LP2, and we'll definitely have to do this again, real soon.
I promise to have more posts up soon, particularly two involving a special person's birthday, and a "terrible schmelting accident".