dc - day 1 - saturday
We left portland in the early dawn. The flight buzzing w/ the knowledge of what’s coming. Kids w/ name-tags that said ‘2009 inauguration conference’; a band from Vancouver WA playing in the parade. Snippets of ‘who do you know?’ and ‘where are you staying?’in the air as we descended over the frozen wyeth-palette landscape. Dulles was swarming, mainly students – bands, groups, coalitions. We found our way somehow to the curb and the air was a knife. Not blow in your hands cold, but rather ow my ears just got cut cold. Found the right 5A bus and called our ride, telling him we were en route and would be at our designated meeting spot in some time.
We got to L’enfent plaza struggled w/ the metro pass machine, and got on the metro to U street. Called our ride. He did not answer. We weren’t sure what to do exactly. Took the escalator up to the street w/ our suitcases and emerged right in front of Ben’s chili bowl, which had Hollywood style spotlights, shooting skyward and a long line of people waiting to get in, breath spiraling out in front of them. We ducked into a bistro type place called Ulah grill. Stowed our suitcases and sat at the bar and drank red wine, toasting to the small miracle of us being there. They offered a libation called a barackatini (as I’m guessing most DC establishments do this wk) which contaned about 10 kinds of liquor.
Our ride called, en route. We downed our wine, collected our luggage, and ran out to his car which contained, in the backseat, a golden retriever named flapjack. This was fascinating for several reasons, one of them being that we’ve toyed w/ the notion of naming our next dog flapjack and another being that it happened to be Mawell’s birthday, 10 yrs had he lived. We got to the apartment (thanks Heather!) unpacked and headed back out.
Walked to Irving and then down 3 blocks to the Columbia Heights Metro stop. Shops and restaurants w/ that new feel, that gentrified sensation as if their mere presence was intended to obliterate the history of the neighborhood (not dissimilar to parts of the Pearl in pdx). Went to target for tea and film and then walked up and down streets, hoping to find a decent restaurant. The cold was piercing. We ended up getting back on the metro, returning to the spot we had been an hour earlier, U street. The sidewalks swelled w/ people, most – it appeared – visiting for the occasion. Every street corner had one or two vendors selling Barack buttons, hats, T-shirts, of varying degrees of quality. We ducked into an Ethiopian restaurant and ate dinner, toasting again to the fact of us being here. There’s an undeniable buzz building, a beginning.