Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cherry Blossoms, Tourists, and Allergies, Oh My!

After 2 especially grueling weeks at work, you can imagine that I was more than a little bit excited about my day off last Friday. Not only was it rest from filling out pointless excel forms and reminding 50 year old men to do theirs, it was Good Friday, the saddest day in the liturgical calendar. I wasn't planning on sitting around all day and moping, or anything, but I was glad that there would be no jeopardy about making it to the service on time and I could relax and absorb the service for what it was.

So after doing a couple of obligatory hours of work in the morning to make sure everything wouldn't go to hell in a handbasket while I was gone, I packed up my things and went to the metro station to go downtown. One of the best things about living in a major city is the availability of pulic transportation, and I am so thankful that I don't have to try to park my car downtown... first of all, I'm a terrible parallel parker, so that makes the entire process extremely nerve racking and upsetting for me. Second, it costs your left arm and first born boy child to park in the garages. Third, since the Cherry Blossom Festival draws literally a million people to the Tidal Basin every year, trying to drive or park in the area is an exercise in futility. Imagine Disney World in June- that's the crowd level.

But I made it off of the metro safely onto the mall and met my friends Chrisi, Jen, Mona, and Shireen to go have a look. And the trees really were gorgeous... the pictures below for details. It was a windy day and every time a gust blew through, it looked like it was snowing. The water was pleasant, lots of people using the paddle boats (if you've ever used one, it's like pedal a bike but with the water resisting you with every stroke, so I'd recommend being a passenger, not a driver). And the Jefferson Memorial, though under renovation, is an austere, regal, and dignified edifice and it's really lovely surrounded by the sun and water and pink petals.

I had a really good time with everyone enjoying the trees... and then we had to go home. Now, we'd had difficulty with the tourists on the way there, doubtless. But as you are anticipating enjoying the sites, your patience for their ignorance, confusion, and general lack of consideration is considerably longer. However, after seeing what you came to see and walking around for a couple of hours and being exposed to the sun, you are tired and just want to go home. But the tourists won't have that. Oh no. They want to continue to gawk at obscure government buildings in the neo-classical style, they want to take pictures in front of random grassy patches, they want to queue up 3 blocks long for overpriced, subquality frozen treats. And by doing all of these things, they inevitably keep you from getting where you need to be in a timely fashion.
And the strollers. Let me just tell you about the strollers. I have no problem with children- I want some one day. They keep the species going, they teach their caregivers about God's love and patience, they provide excuses to do things that you are theoritically too old to enjoy. All wonderful things. But they lack the self-control to walk extended distances without whining. Not that I don't sympathize- when I'm tired I want to cry and complain, too. But I'm supposed to be too old for that, so I can't. Children, on the other hand, whine and get to be pushed around all day instead of hoofing it with the rest of us. Which is fine. More power to anyone who can cry their way into being carried around.

But while I salute children's right not to walk, I maintain my right to walk without being cut on my heels by their strollers. Which I was, repeatedly. And then yelled at by the parents pushing their offspring for being in the way. On my way home. In my own town.

Here's a tip. When you become a tourist, you don't cease to be a person. You aren't magically exempt from the common laws of human decency and rational sense. Anyways, I guess I learned the moral of this story is that I should not be allowed around tourist en masse because it makes me cranky and cynical, and I don't like myself in that mood.

Jen had the good sense to see the literal 2 block long line to get on the metro at Smithsonian and say, "I don't know what you guys are doing, but I'm going to L'Enfant." So we walked 4 extra blocks and got on at a station with no line and plenty of seating on the cars. And when all the tourists got on one stop later, I laughed at them and their fanny packs as they stood crowded and awkward in the car. Not out loud, of course, because that would be rude.

Well, friends, my annoyance came back to haunt me. What comes around goes around and in exchange for my sour puss attitude, I received the worst allergic reaction I've ever had. Eyes swollen shut on Easter, sitting in a dark apartment with sunglasses and floppy beach hat on, semi-comatose from Benadryl.
So the lesson is that cherry blossoms are beautiful, courtesy is a virtue, and that kind heartedness is never inappropriate, And that pollen makes me live like a vampire.

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