In Which We Visit the Capital

Another week, another blog, but this one finally has pictures again! Yes, pictures of the Nation’s Capital, the almighty, museum filled, Washington DC, which may or may not be where I spent my weekend. But before we get to that, let’s head back to Tuesday and another busy week in the city.

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Yes, continuing my recent trend of booking myself half to death, I managed to spend my Tuesday in constant motion from work to start-up school to an ethical tech meetup where we discussed the role of social media in social movements. There may have also been beer and snacks. Wednesday however, I was fighting the edge of a headache and some pretty full-on exhaustion so after staying a bit late at work—it’s so easy to lose track of time when formatting papers—I went home and just relaxed. I probably should have done laundry, but sometimes you just need to lie in bed and listen to TED talks.

Thursday I was back up and at ‘em with another round of start-up school, a very speedily scarfed supper and, finally, a trip to Adelante for Eddie’s class. Yes, after four months in New York, I FINALLY made it to Eddie Torres’ weekly intermediate class. It was so wonderful. $20 for 2.5 hours with The Master? So worth it. And if Eddie himself wasn’t enough, there’s always Maria who just never stops. She fills the room with her energy and flirts with Eddie shamelessly. They’ve been together since the 70s and if the way they act in class is anything to go by, they’re still madly in love and totally have the hots for each other. I left the studio tired, perspiring, and believing in love again. Dare I say, #relationshipgoals?

And then just like that, it was the weekend! Well, almost the weekend. In fact it was Friday which I spent at a conference at Columbia University learning all about the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub before hustling back to Penn to make my way to Jersey for a weekend of good company and great adventures. We left New Brunswick around 5:30 and hit the turnpike headed south.

About an hour later we were switching cars and collecting friends just outside of Philly before returning to the highway bound for DC. ‘Round about 10pm, we arrived at the Hollywood Ballroom just North of DC for a night of swing. It was wonderful! The Washington scene is so large and diverse and full of delightful folks of every extraction! We danced until about 1:30am then hopped back in the car to Arlington where we had an invitation to crash at the house of the birthday girl who had provided the initial motivation for our trip South.

Despite some interesting adventures in flaccid mattresses (air mattresses can be so very fickle), we managed to sleep until well into the next day. When we finally peeled ourselves out of bed, we poured some coffee into our faces then headed to brunch.

Brunch was a delightful excursion in the company of another, formerly Boston, westie now of the Washington persuasion. We went to the Liberty Tavern which has apparently served Obama, but more importantly serves a breakfast pizza bar none with sausages, egg, bacon, tomato, and cheese all gloriously layered atop a tender crust with just the right amount of chew. There may have also been breakfast booze in the form of a heavenly slurry of grapefruit, lime, vodka, St. Germain, and ginger beer. I have already forgotten what it was called, so we’ll have to settle for just calling it delicious.

After brunch, our group thinned somewhat and those of us that remained headed into DC to see the Library of Congress. Yup, this mad creature convinced SEVERAL comparatively sane individuals to accompany her to a library. It was so beautiful. The ceilings were all either mosaics or stained glass and the sheer variety of marble used in the columns and tiles, it was just so stunning, AND I got to see a volume of the Gutenberg Bible. Perhaps, next time, I might maybe manage to beg a reader’s permit out of them so they’ll let me paw around in the stacks. I might be a librarian inside after all.

After the library we grabbed a critical cup of coffee and set off for the Mall. It was a very American afternoon all together from the Capitol, down past all of the Smithsonians, to the Washington monument and a view of the White House all wreathed in star spangled banners and and the light of the setting sun. This country sure knows how to do grandeur.

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That evening was the birthday party we’d originally come down for. It was a wonderful night of meeting marvellous people, hearing their (frequently fascinating) stories, and even dancing with a few of them. The dance community is full of so many incredible people who have lived such diverse and interesting lives. I feel very blessed to know them.

Some hours later after the house was tidied and everyone had gone home, we climbed back onto the magical sinking mattress for a few more hours of sleep. Sunday was spent lounging about the house, chatting and dancing with our host before it was finally time for us to head back to the highway for the long drive home.

We didn’t intend to take a detour, but somehow, the high bluffs of a river bank in the golden glow of the late afternoon sun were just irresistible and so we soon traded the turnpike for a country road which lead us through a beautiful pastoral scene of rolling fields melting into the lazy curves of the river which wandered and wove under railway bridges and road bridges. Had it been only a touch warmer, we might never have made it home, but a brisk wind kept our time out on the river bank brief and we were soon back on track to Philly.

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We counted musical phrasing and talked about nearly everything as we flew through the deepening dark, and then somewhere under the lights of the city, we parted ways with our Philly friend and continued on to Jersey where I was fed and delivered to the train back to the city. I might have finished this blog then, between the train and a bit of time at home, but the subway was to prove vexing and by the time I finally made it back to my flat, it was, non-negotiably, time to climb into bed.

Today was a whirlwind and also the first time I’ve ever sent my laundry out to be done. It rather goes against my principles, but considering the week ahead, I couldn’t exactly see an opening for laundry so I’ve done the city thing and dropped my laundry at the cleaners with hopes that it all returns in reasonable condition. Once the laundry was handed over, I headed back to the subway to find my way to NYU’s law school for the inaugural conversation at the Center on Race, Inequality and The Law. I sat in a crowded hall (which had overflowed into two more rooms) to hear the passion and wisdom of The Honorable Loretta E. Lynch, 83rd Attorney General of the United States; Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.; and Bryan Stevenson, Professor of Clinical Law, Founder and Executive Director of Equal Justice Initiative. Yes. They are a big deal and there’s a reason. They were so well spoken, knowledgeable, and driven to fight against injustice wherever they found it. And they left us with such a powerful message: “You don’t get to be hopeless.”

I can’t really put the power of this evening into words, but I am so honoured to have been there and I feel so blessed to be the same kind of creature as those inspiring men and women. I don’t know if I have it in me to be as powerfully effective or incredibly dedicated to a cause as they are, but I hope I can do a small fraction of the good that they are doing in this world.

And now I am here, writing to you all, bringing the little bit of entertainment that I am capable of providing into the world once more. I hope I leave you with a smile at least if not a flavour of the feeling that this week’s experiences have given me.

With affectionate warmth,
The Salsa Girl

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