When an Amtrak Riding Mom Travels Alone to DC

Sometimes when I return home from a trip-wait, no.Typically it’s a unit of “we” returning home from a trip; let’s start again. When an Amtrak riding Mom travels alone to DC, what will she do?

I went to a town that I love more than any other town, funny because it’s not even a town. Or a city. Or, hell, even a state. The founding fathers were weird.

DC: where my past visits have often included at least an hour of aimless, destination-free Metro-riding. Just sticking my fare card into the slot makes my heart do the electric slide. But when I hop a line without having to double-check the map, that’s when my brain does a boogie woogie. Once, years before the Small People entered Life, Stage Left, I rode the red line from end to end while JB and our friends went to a museum.

So happy. (Offers cheese and crackers to the fare card sitting next to me on the couch.) Okay, I’m weird, too.

On Wednesday, Momsrising had an event planned aimed at reminding legislators about the importance of early education, but I got to leave early for DC, because JB rocks like granite.

By the way, Clay Aiken was on my train,

but he wore the headphones and, dammit folks, you gotta respect the symbolic demand for privacy represented by those wearing the ‘phones. Though it was cute watching people get all twitchy with their celebrity-geek.  Based on previous amtrak experiences, I’m confident when I say that Aikenless train trips do not end with the train engineer conducting (snort) an informal customer satisfaction survey.

Going early gave me the opportunity to outline the story arc that I finally nailed down. Trapped on a train, what other choice did I have?  I might have wasted a smidgen of time attempting to connect (approximately 456,983 attempts, give or take a hundred thousand) to the amtrak wifi; the existence of which is now filed under “Santa is a Lie and Other Assorted Dead Dreams.”

I checked in to my room at the EconoLodge, a hotel that certainly isn’t going to win any amenity awards, but was a gazillion miles away from the horror of a specific Knight’s Inn, location: Lexington, KY.  What qualifies as a horrible hotel changes after you’ve been served food by a waiter wearing Eau de Bong Water while flaunting the single largest case of mouth herpes I’ve seen outside of dermatology websites.

I left the next morning with my backpack loaded with laptop and paper instead of snacks and drinks, freedom never weighed so much. The original plan was to head down to the Library of Congress, get my official LOC library card, and sit in the midst of All of The Research Things. But it was a nice day, and such walkable city, so I started off at the National Mall.

A note about walkable cities: I think they become walkable, because affording both a car and lodging means you are rich, poor, or living 4+ people in an 800 square foot condo…in Virginia). Oh, how I want to be poor in an 800 square foot condo with 2 kids, a husband, and lots of animals. No bullshit.

What’s that? Me, chasing pictures against a perfect sky. I’ve spent the last few years fascinated by dead trees, now it’s streetlights.



When I turned around to leave, I noticed this guy, just hiding in the trees.



I had stumbled into the Enid A. Haupt Garden, lovely for the plant life, but fascinating for accomplishing pockets of silence in the middle of loud DC.  I rounded the corner, and this nook, boasting an empty table in the shade, used butterfly wing magic to whisper my name.


I never did make it to the Library of Congress.

Eventually I had to go back home, and I did so with the assumption that neither kids, nor spouse spent much time missing me.  I was cool with that, because **feeling/mutual**.

I was missed.

–By the lizard that hadn’t pooped for two days when I left on Monday, and was still poop-less until about mid-morning Thursday. Holding it for me, because I’m the only person that living creatures trust to clean up their shit?

–By the old dog whose bladder has become nicely accustomed to on-demand relief. Again with the bodily functions?

–By the turtle that Elliot rescued on the second day of school from a pack of boys preparing to test gravity theory. Maybe the turtle didn’t miss me, she prefers to remain aloof.



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