out of this world

On Saturday at four in the morning at my friend's house in DC, I woke up abruptly, looked at the clock and thought, I bet Calvin is having a seizure. Sure enough (I found out later when I called home) he was. It's a helpless feeling being a world away from my son, particularly when he isn't doing well. 

I managed to go back to sleep, but not before pondering the unforgettable images I'd seen at the The National Museum of African American History and Culture the day before. I had spent hours there, perusing several floors inside the massive structure which reminded me both of a ship and an African basket, with its sculpted bronze facade. My journey began in the building's bowels in the year 1400, the advent of the African slave trade. Visitors, most of them African Americans, wove their way through artifacts, descriptions and quotes chronicling the hellish transatlantic voyage that enslaved African men, women and children had to endure. I read accounts of what I already knew, of children being torn from their mothers to be sold at auction, of humans being stripped, oiled and groped, regarded as chattel and treated like animals, of humiliation and rape, of lashing and lynching and burning at the stake. I read what I know to be fact, that all men are created equal, and yet claim to this truth is still out of reach for too many souls. At times the images brought me to tears, mourning the wretched things white men did to fellow human beings, lamenting the ongoing racism in this nation and its denial by so many, but hopeful that folks can continue to be enlightened beyond their ignorant selves.

That night I used Uber for the first time, perhaps convincing my young driver, Mario, to purchase health insurance on the ACA exchange. When I reached my destination, an Italian restaurant with white linen-topped tables, I sat and drank Barbaresco and nibbled on succulent roasted octopus, a whole Mediterranean fish filet, and pasta frutti di mare, all courtesy of my patron, our dear friend Ades who lives in Virginia and adores our son. We caught up on our goings-on, and I expressed hope that Paul could visit us in Maine more often. Just shy of midnight, we closed down the restaurant with a mini caramel cheesecake, an espresso, and twin glasses of Limoncello.

My short visit out of this world and into to our nation's capital had begun as a good one, though peppered with sadness missing Michael, Calvin and Nellie, and when reminded of how significantly disabled my son is—at first smiling at walking toddlers no taller than my knee, then weeping at the sight of children talking with their fathers and quizzing their mothers about historical scenes; my grieving over Calvin's great limitations never ceases to ease.

Though the weather was windy and frigid, I managed to stay warm by walking in-between monuments, memorials and museums. I walked over six miles each day, not including the hours I spent on my feet viewing exhibits. On Saturday I visited The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which was as sober as the previous day's tour through our own nation's ongoing wrongdoings against African Americans. Again, I wept for the innocents who suffered such miserable crimes of humanity. One by one I came across heart-wrenching displays. The first people to be killed by the Nazis were the mentally and physically disabled. Children like my son Calvin, whether Jewish or not, would have been taken from their parents and murdered by use of lethal injection in an attempt to cleanse the Arian Nation. The Nazis killed the elderly and the infirm. They killed Catholics and homosexuals. They systematically imprisoned and murdered millions of Jewish men, women and children.

I came upon a familiar quote we best heed which reminded me of our sorry-ass POTUS, too many Republicans in congress and other deplorable White Nationalists and bigots:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemöller

And another, thought to have been spoken by Albert Einstein:

The world is a dangerous place not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.

And, I read aloud with conviction the words emblazoned on a banner in the hall of the Holocaust museum:



My last morning was less somber. It began with a latte topped with heart-shaped foam. Across the table from me was my host and new friend, Jen, who had given me her bed, lent me her hairdryer, her jacket and a small backpack, and was my personal docent unearthing the best pork bun in China Town and helping me navigate the city. 

Hours before my train to the airport departed, I was fetched by our dear friend David's eighty-two year old mother, Yolanda, who I had never met before. She treated me to the most exquisite brunch at the swanky Hay Adams hotel that was completely out of this world. As the servers poured us endless flutes of champagne, we chatted, laughed and got teary-eyed as if we were dear old friends, all while nibbling on delectables from a ridiculously sumptuous buffet which included oysters on the half shell, seared tuna medallions, lumps of melt-in-your-mouth mozzarella buffata, roasted apples and pears, roasted split figs stuffed with chèvre, prosciutto, salami, scallops, prawns, smoked salmon, beet and quinoa salad, roasted eggplant and squash, tender asparagus spears with hollandaise sauce, ruby red grapefruit sections, every kind of croissant, raisin buns, savory cheeses, and candied pecans. Then, if you can believe it, came the main course. I chose crab-cake Benedict with poached eggs. Yolanda opted for steak au poivre with duck fat fries on the side. As if that wasn't enough we indulged on tiny cups of creme brûlée, and a slice of chocolate mouse cake. All the while I kept reminding myself to be grateful for my good fortune in this often intolerant, oft-forgiving, crazy-ass, upside down world. 


  1. Christy, thank you for visiting my hometown and my mother. Next time, I hope Mike can be there too. And me too!

  2. Wow what a neat travel log. Wish I could have been with you .

  3. I'm so glad you got away -- the trip sounded sumptuous! I found the Holocaust Museum incredible in every way but also exhausting -- I can't imagine seeing both it and the African American one over a couple of days. So much to process. I sure hope you got some rest and peace --