So, my birthday was this past Saturday. I turned 37 -- yippee!!! Of course, this is my first since the divorce, so it was going to be my first year all alone. I took the Friday off from work, plus this Monday and Tuesday to give me a proper 5-day weekend to "celebrate," if it can be called that. To be honest, I really hadn't planned on doing anything special besides staying home watching Netflix and just relaxing.
You'll notice I said I was going to be all alone, because apparently my friend Cin had other plans for me. She surprised me with a trip to Washington, D.C., which I'd never been to before. The catch was: I had to do the driving. Fair enough. I hadn't quite expected a big road trip for my long weekend, but it's not like I had anything pressing to do with myself. And Cin and I are very good friends, which meant the 4-hour drive was going to be an enjoyable one in good company, at least. How could I pass that up?
Ostensibly we were traveling to D.C. to visit a mutual college friend of ours, who's been living there for the past decade or so. Neither Cin or I had seen our friend, Hong, in over 8 years, so it was a fun reunion to say the least. But, of course, we were also going to be celebrating my birthday. And this made me feel very special deep down inside. It's been a long time since I've felt such a way on my birthday. I was so excited!
We left New York early Saturday morning. The plan was to get to our hotel by noon. But, you know what they say about the best laid plans ...
|Shit just got real.|
Only 45 mins into our trip we ran smack dab into a 90 minute traffic jam. Cars were backed up for 30 miles! Apparently someone shut down one of two major arteries connecting the northeast corridor to the Capital. And it was the fastest of the two routes, too. Ouch! To make matters worse, we were all being misdirected to a defunct detour--one that ended in yet another detour, which itself was sending us up North back toward New York! The fuck?
|Cin cleans up rather nicely, I must say.|
But it all turned out well. We were able to walk to the meeting spot, which took place in D.C.'s Chinatown. Their version of Chinatown is much like Philly's: only a handful of blocks wide and bordered by a ridiculously kitschy looking Chinese gate. Doesn't even compare to New York's or San Francisco's. Still, we thought at least there might be good food here. Hong, being a Chinese national herself, quickly relieved us of this notion, though. According to her, the so-called Chinese food here was not worth writing home about. In fact, it was downright gross.
|The sign in the center says: You silly Americans.|
So instead we ended up at a local American-type restaurant renowned for it's pizza and assorted fare. It wasn't a pizzeria, but actually a nicely upscale place frequented by dressed-up locals and tourists alike. It seemed like a popular date place. Being New Yorkers, we weren't all that impressed by the pizza. But the food was still decent, and the company? Even better! I had so much fun catching up with Hong and exchanging all the latest gossip on our mutual college friends who were at large out there in the big bad grown-up world we had somehow stumbled into ourselves.
|Hong, Myself, and Cin. Just like old times!|
The three of us waxed reminiscent for a long couple of hours about our good old college days, when responsibilities were far simpler and our worries no more complicated than where the best places on campus to do laundry were. We discussed how we all first met, and exchanged funny insights into various other mutual friends of ours whom we'd lost contact with over the years. It brought back so many wonderful memories of our happy, youthful days.
|The proper drink for a Dragon.|
Alas, due to our rather late arrival in the city--and the torturous, horrendous drive preceding it--Cin and I had to call it a night by this point. But, apparently, not before I was presented with a surprise I totally never saw coming: our waitress came out with a big fudge and ice-cream dessert, topped with a lit candle, and wished me happy birthday. How sweet, right? I was so overwhelmed to have such a thoughtful, wonderful friend. Thank you, Cin! This touched me more than you probably know.
|Blow that candle! Hopefully, this is for good luck.|
Reluctantly, then, it came time to say our goodbyes. Hong promised to look us both up the next time she was in New York, and we agreed to all meet up again. Perhaps at a proper Chinatown with authentic Chinese food this time! All in all I had a great birthday with amazing friends, despite the crappy start. Had I not been so tired, however, I would have liked to walk to the Lincoln Memorial when it's all lit up at night. But I was just too beat! In the morning, after breakfast and before the long drive back home, Cin and I did attempt to walk the National Mall from the Capitol building to the MLK memorial, but we just could not cover the distance in the amount of time we had left. We only made it as far as the Washington Monument before having to turn back. Plus, it was hot as Hades that morning--Cin almost passed out!
|Washington Monument under renovation.|
So, unfortunately, it will have to wait another time. There is so much I wanted to do and see in D.C., but we simply did not have another day in our itinerary. Too bad. Still, the city's not going anywhere. And nothing's stopping me from going back. Perhaps I will one day soon. But for now, I have plenty of good memories spent with awesome friends to tide me over.
Don't you just love it when that happens?