Wednesday, January 21, 2009
January 2009 in Washington DC
The first time I came to DC was last July, when we had a run of "If You See Something..." at Woolly Mammoth. Though I fell in love with the theater (the audiences, the staff, the building) and was impressed by the city's scope and vitality, I had a hard time that trip.
For one thing, it was hot. Which severely limited my ability to walk around and see the sights, let alone do basic things like pick up groceries and do laundry without a considerable amount of whining.
For the second thing, the monologue was at a critical point in its development, and it was taking a lot of work to whip it into shape, which meant Mike would build it every night and then I would tear it apart every morning, and then we'd do it all again. At least, that's how the process started to feel to us, until we could hardly stand it anymore.
Finally, my grandmother was dying in the other Washington, which meant that whenever we weren't fighting over the monologue, I was a weepy mess. She ended up passing away while I was there, which meant I had to leave DC early to attend her funeral while Mike stayed behind to finish the run.
This trip went considerably better.
Nobody close to us died, the weather was tolerable, the performances and roundtables went swimmingly, and a fantastic new president was sworn in--one we actually believe in and whose campaign I've given money to, one who makes me proud to call myself an American. Talk about a happy start to a new year.
In the weeks leading up to the inauguration you could feel the collective good mood of the city rising and rising. Restaurants and bars extended their hours in recognition that the entire city would be playing host to this celebration.
My cousin Victoria (family nickname "Pepsi"--it's a long story) and her husband James came to town for the big event and got to see our show, too.
Unlike them, we didn't have inauguration tickets, but we did get invited to an arts leadership cocktail party on the eve of the inauguration, where we met up with fellow artists and neighbors from Brooklyn, Isaac and Ann. I'm not much of a schmoozer, but I do appreciate open bars and appetizers of enormous scallops with a light butternut squash and brown beurre sauce.
After the party we walked down to the mall and got much closer to the stage than we knew we'd be able to the next day.
The grounds were full of folks like us, everyone eager to help take pictures for one another, everyone jubilant and oh so hopeful.
Indeed, the following day we fought our way to (and through) the train station, checked our bags, then walked along the perimeter of the Capitol, hoping we might be able to hear our new president's speech even if we couldn't get close enough to see him on a jumbotron.
There were thousands of other people just like us, happy just to be close to the big event (and knowing we'd be able to watch it all on Hulu later).
After surveying our options, we sat down at the sunny base of a tree, had a little picnic, and people-watched until it was time to catch our train. One cop made a beeline toward us and I was afraid he was going to tell me that dogs weren't allowed in the area, but it turned out he just missed his dog back at home and wanted to scratch his head and say hello.
I still didn't see as much of the city as I would have liked this trip, but the great news is that we're going to be back in a year's time with a brand new piece. A piece that I'm very excited about and will be able to spill the beans on soon.
Until then, Happy New President Day to all of you.