Happy Birthday George Washington
February 17, 2014 § Leave a comment
Even thought George Washington was born on the 22nd, his birthday is celebrated on the third monday of February under the vague national holiday, President’s Day. The day used to remind me of the men leading our lil’ country. Now, it reminds me of one person: my mother. Here’s why…
In high school, I was a little bit obsessed with the U.S. Presidents. I’m not sure how it happened, when it started, or what fueled it (jk-I do know because I’m still a little bit of a freak when it comes to that group of guys). Anyway, senior year my mom and I decided to take a day trip to D.C. for the February occasion. We went to a handful of museums, bused our way to Mount Vernon, took a selfie near the Lincoln Memorial, and ate hot dogs on the street. Cue Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day.”
I’m not sure what proves a mother’s love, but waiting in line for events they have very little to no interest for is definitely part of it. My mom is especially good at this. She has walked, trudged, and snoozed through countless exhibits, museums, and streets that mean very little to her besides the fact that I’m walking next to her, pamphlets in pockets and camera ready. She fell asleep in the Louve, if that paints any sort of picture.
So when we were blissfully strolling the rooms of George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate (Rooms I still dream about, by the way. The walls were kelly green. KELLY GREEN.), she was happy and eager to take a later flight home. What could go wrong?
Things went wrong. Our flight out of Reagan cancelled and Dulles seemed to be separated from us at an ocean’s length. Somewhere on the outskirts of downtown, we waited with a tote full of souvenirs for a bus that never came. The last flight of the night was leaving very, very soon. It was dark and cold and there was nobody on the street until a white truck stopped in front of us. My mom told me to get in the car.
I’m not sure if I’ve made it clear just how extemporaneous my mother is. By her standards, getting into a stranger’s car in a major city isn’t too crazy. She once swapped shirts with someone at a Pokémon convention after my brother, Ben, fell in love with a graphic-t that was not for sale. She is velocity in human form. She is efficient. I did what my mother told me to do.
We got in the truck and two men drove us to the Dulles airport. The men spoke in broken English, said they were from Iraq and that they’d been living in D.C. for a few years. Early on, the man in the passenger seat reached for a paper napkin and held it over the lower half of his face for the remainder of the hour long drive. When my mom asked if he had a cold, he whispered that he did not. It was a long drive, but she talked to the men as if we had known them our whole lives, offered them everything we could give them, and thanked them probably a hundred times.
Even with the help of the mysterious men, we didn’t make the flight. We slept on the floor at the gate, frozen in our day clothes, waiting for the sun or at least the metal bars of the closed Subway to rise. Only after we settled into the abandoned gate did she admit, surrounded by a empty rows of synthetic-leather chairs, that it was maybe not her best parenting moment. I disagree.
Not sure what you’re doing for Presidents Day, but I’m thinking of the ways we grow- from colonies to a country, from daughter to mother, from one phase to another (Ben isn’t a child anymore, but he’ll always covet a good Pokémon graphic-t). I quit receiving notifications from my U.S. Presidential Quotes App, so I think I can say that my Presidents obsession is nearly over. I’m not boarding a plane or punching subway tickets today, but that doesn’t mean I’m stationary.
Happy Presidents Day!