Back in early November, Mom e-mailed me a link to this photography exhibit in Washington D.C. Featuring the works of nine National Geographic photography masters, I knew immediately that I wanted to make time to put this on my calendar! During a phone call to my new city friend (new to the city, not a new friend), we both poured over our calendars and eventually determined that Saturday, December 27 was the first opportunity we would have to Metro in together.
Friday I double-checked the gallery’s web site to confirm the hours of operation and directions from the Metro, and sent Courtney the obligatory (and expected) detailed e-mail confirming our plans and relating all of the important info. We made plans to meet at the U Street Station at 11 a.m., and I proceeded to finish wrapping Christmas presents.
Saturday morning I was set to be on-time for a change, even after a quick trip through the ATM. I drove up to the Suitland Station on the Green line, parked in the parking garage and hopped on the first train headed away from Branch Avenue. It was then I realized that this was perhaps the first time I’d ever ridden the Metro alone… Living so far away stops someone like me from heading into the city at every whim. Trips are usually planned for specific events, chosen to go along with friends in an attempt to carpool the 80 or so miles up to the Metro (or further if a decision is made to drive all the way to the venue).
What I realized as soon as I sat down on the pleather bench, is that I had no one to talk to. And because I was so used to always having a traveling companion, it never occured to me to pack my iPod along for the trip, so I had nothing to listen to either. It was thirteen stops to U Street, and I spent my time staring out the window with a vague recollection of the long bus rides home from school watching the countryside pass by.
Utilizing the magic of text messaging, I learned that upon arriving at U Street, Courtney and Steve were only just departing their starting station, and I would have about 25 minutes before they joined me. I exited the U Street Station towards 13th Avenue, and not even 20 steps to my left I found what I was looking for — Starbucks. Which would provide me with three things I craved in my wait: a bathroom, a coffee and a newspaper to read. Eureka!
After finishing an article on the Chesapeake Bay and how we’re not really doing as good of a job of saving the Bay as we’d hoped, Courtney and Steve showed up. Now armed with my friends, we made our way to the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery at Smith Farm Center. Just less than four blocks down 13th Avenue, Courtney was the first to identify the gallery. I think I was rubbernecking at shops and signs across the road, which is why country girls should always travel with city girls!
But there was a major problem. On a regular sheet of computer paper, there was a notice– the gallery was closed. Yep, you read that right. All that planning, all of that anticipation. All of those hours spent in transit, and an exhibit that closes on January 2 in a gallery that was closed for the holidays — something NOT indicated on the web site. Meaning? My only chance to see the exhibit will be if I can trek all the way back up to D.C. on the 2nd.
Who knew one sheet of paper could make your heart drop so fast? I looked at Courtney and Steve, eyes full of equal amounts apology and anger. Luckily, neither one of them would let me stew on the “shoulda’s” (e.g., I shoulda called the gallery to confirm the holiday hours), and instead we focused on cupcakes.
Soon after the sugar rush, we settled into chairs around a circular table at a sushi place on U Street. We placed our order, and as we were waiting for the chef to prepare our fish-feast I noticed some movement in the center of the dining room. I stopped listening to Courtney’s story and leaned in towards her, pointing a finger and staring at the scurry: a tiny little mouse. Courtney followed my stare-and-point perfectly, and saw the little rascal just as he disappeared down a hall. Steve wasn’t facing in the correct direction to see the scamp, but we quickly filled him in.
I had actually hesitated as to whether or not to point him out, but Courtney’s reaction proved my decision to have been a good one. She related this dining experience in an old part of D.C. to be similar to when she ate in restaurants in Paris — another old city. Paris also had a few of the small furry critters in and around their food establishments, and rather than getting up and leaving our table immediately, Courtney chose to simply alert the waitstaff of the four-footed intruder.
Our sushi was good — and Steve initiated both of us to several pieces we would not have tried on our own, including sea urchin (a little too creamy and gushy for my taste). And when the bill came? The restaurant manager authorized a discount — unasked for — presumably for pointing out the rodent but not alerting OSHA.
A disappointing start at the gallery, but the day was totally rescued by spending it with two friends who have an appetite for adventure!