Dear Time and Space Travel 2

8 Jul

Dear Time and Space Travel 2,

The last time (yesterday) we left our intrepid heroine (me), I had not *really* spent any decent amount of time on the east coast. This spring, I took matters in my own hands, and I stubbornly closed my eyes to the departure and arrival times (which indicate the 5 hour plane ride) and I left sunny California for New York and Washington, DC. In March. For spring break.

As I told people, “Yes, I’m doing spring break wrong, but I’m doing life right.” They really appreciated hearing that. You should have heard the way they laughed stared at me with a mix of hatred, blankness, and annoyance. Anyway, I spent five days in New York, where it was cold but sunny, and four days in Washington, DC, where it rained the whole time. PAR-TAY.

Updated New York impressions: Manhattan is ten degrees colder than Brooklyn, it’s not worth it to walk across the Brooklyn bridge, particularly if you already have blisters, the MoMA perfected a particular brand of museum torture by having a display of chairs through the ages which you obviously cannot sit on, the Whole Foods on Union Square should be avoided at all costs, Korean tapas are delicious, Priscilla Queen of the Desert has exactly as much glitter in it as you could possibly want, and mafiosos really do run the pizza parlors.

Look, traveling is exhausting. I get that. You’re always on the go, you do way more tourist things than when you live in a place, you wait in more lines, you’re overstimulated and half-lost and under-rested and you are always, always, either under- or over-fed. But New York is the one place I’ve been (a list which includes Rome, Florence, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, San Francisco, Los Angeles) where it feels like it would be as tiring to live there as it is to visit. These impressions are half-baked. What can I say. I really liked it, and I will go back, but I totally think the only way to do is have friends there who you can go visit and who will keep you from feeling like you have to see everything and do everything. I recommend, in fact, spending some time sitting in a kitchen late at night making tea and talking about boys and reading in a sunny bedroom in Brooklyn until wait too late in the morning before you even pretend to venture out. I’m not going to tell you exactly where I ate because I can’t remember it’s none of your business.

Updated Washington, DC impressions: it rains a lot there.

No? That’s not sufficient? Ok, well: there is a lot of black clothing. 20somethings really do go on awkward first dates and spend the whole time outlining their resumes for each other. While wearing black clothing. While it rains. I was at this restaurant, waiting for a table, and I went to the bathroom. When I came back these two people about my age were standing near my dinner date, and the conversation went like this:

Girl: I like my job, I really do, I’ve enjoyed my time there, I’m just not sure that being an office manager for one of the busiest DC firms is going to keep me challenged blah blah blah…

Me: “I’m really super awesome at my job. Too good for it, really. Because I’m so smart? Smarter than you are, probably.”

My dinner date: Shhhh, they’ll hear you.

Boy: Yeah, I know when I was working abroad…

Me: “You know, in Germany? At the Embassy? Did I tell you already I speak four languages? I didn’t mention that? Also I’m a doctor.”

My dinner date: You missed the part where he told her he speaks Arabic. That happened earlier.

Me: …..wait, really?!?

Me: I can do it too. Did I ever tell you about my internship? I liked it, I just wasn’t sure that it was where I needed to be at that moment? You know, with how I can speak Spanish sort-of and know how to sign the alphabet? Also I don’t really like to talk about this, but I should mention that I won a grocery store contest in the 3rd grade with my drawing of a snowman.

My dinner date: Please stop talking.

Girl: My black coat is blacker than your coat.

Boy: My black shoes are from Portugal.

Hostess: Your table is ready.

My dinner date: Oh thank god.

It was like seeing a black squirrel and finding out they really do exist! (But that’s a story from this most recent trip.)

In addition to seeing the local dating scene, I also went to the Smithsonian. And by went to the Smithsonian, I mean I visited some museums because apparently they are not all in one place that is called the Smithsonian? The place that appears to most often be called the Smithsonian looks like it belongs at Disneyland and is a glorified information booth, maybe. I say maybe because I didn’t go in there. Bill Bryson has some great thoughts on this separation of dinosaurs and airplanes in his book The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America, because trust me to have read about things before experiencing them, even those things are as nerdy-oriented as museums.

So Bill Bryson is pissed that they split the museum collections up because when he was a kid, it was like a treasure hunt. You’d be toodling along, scaring your brother with an ancient mask you totally were not supposed to be touching, and you’d come around the corner to find a Boeing 737 parked in the middle of a battle between the pioneers and the Native Americans and your brother would be holding Julia Childs’ favorite spoon. So I was prepared to be disappointed in the museums’ neat organizational structure. And no, I don’t remember why Bryson visited DC in the middle of his book about finding the last perfect small town in America.

Anyway, I skipped the Postal Museum, so I can’t tell you what that’s about. (What was I thinking?) Also I never made it to the Spy Museum, which I am genuinely aggrieved about, because duh.

I can tell you that in the Natural History Museum, I was reminded of the fact that I never had a dinosaur phase. Not remotely. I’m not even sure I could identify a T-rex. I also was never told as a child, “Look with your eyes, not with your hands,” a phrase my dinner date/museum companion seemed intimately familiar with. He also made me go look at the precious gems, which I didn’t give a hoot about (boys, am I right?), and we sort of zipped past the elephants, because I like elephants, but I like ’em alive better, and through the orchid exhibit, which smelled nice.

We whizzed through the Hirshhorn Museum, because my feet were still hurting from being at MoMA two days earlier and how much modern art can a girl look at? Later I went to the National Gallery of Art, and while I’m looking for what exhibit I saw (I loved it! It was fantastic! I have no idea what it was!), the internet instead tells me that “Gift shop is first-rate, too” and now I’m just disappointed I didn’t go in. What was I thinking?

Then I went and dawdled through the American History Museum, which I kept trying to leave, but I couldn’t. I mean, I had to look at the all the First Lady fashions, and Dorothy’s shoes, and that boat that seems to be in there for no particular reason, since we didn’t win that battle anyway and it appears to have sunk in the first five minutes or so, and Fonzie’s leather jacket, and the first Kermit the Frog, and the Portrait of Stephen Colbert. Did you guys know that American history is essentially a collection of pop-culture objects? Yeah, me too. I’ve got to say, I skipped the exhibition on the history of money. Although that might have been considerably quieter than the display “Invention at Play” in which kids (definitely did not do this, no sirree, I’m an adult) got to try on teflon and shoot off laser guns.

I was about to leave when I realized that half— half!— of the whole first floor is devoted to an exhibit on transportation. Transportation. Seriously. They just moved a bunch of people’s old cars and campers in there and a mock street trolley and then there are some pictures of boats. And some maps documenting all the national parks that Wilfred and Shirley drove to in that nice boat of a coupe, right there, which they bought back in 1953. Original leather interior you’re looking at.

Then I was about to leave again when I peeked in this little dark room and it was all about the history of pop-up books, and my dinner date/museum companion/absentee-at-work-tour-guide had to call me three times before I would leave, because hello, pop-up books.

Shortly thereafter, I took a nap. While it rained. I wore black sweatpants. And I did not speak in Arabic.




2 Responses to “Dear Time and Space Travel 2”

  1. Anonymous 8 July 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Totally agree about NYC and DC. My travels made me realize how much of a West Coast person I am. Maybe I’m just lazy. Or like color too much. Or just don’t care that much about money. Wait, yes, I do.I just wish I don’t.

    -Vagabond Tyler

    • margaret michelle 11 July 2011 at 11:48 am #

      Tyler? Tyler that I know?

      Also, let’s not beat around the bush. Recycling is superior here.

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