I recently took a trip for vacation. I always say foolish things like “I love to travel” when it has been a while. I do like to see new things and meet new people and try new foods. This is the grammatically incorrect sentence that flies through my overworked brain when I have not had a vacation for a while. I like to call phrases like that “mental judo”. “Mental judo” is where a small part of my brain says something that levers the rest of my brain into thinking things are good ideas.
I believe that the human brain deliberately forgets overly traumatic events such as bad first dates or air travel in order to preserve any semblance of sanity that exists after such experiences. I have an unfortunate genetic condition that allows me to remember bad experiences on any airplane. I decided that I should spend more money and fly first class since “I am on vacation” is mental judo code for “I can justify this cost”. If you have not flown first class, you definitely should. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a soul-sucking mode of travel where the large airline companies charge extra fees for carrying more than a q-tip on board. It is still so miserable that I actually asked the airline how much it would cost to rent a coffin and an oxygen tank to travel in the cargo hold. In first class, you get almost six extra inches of space and heated mixed nuts. Six whole inches and heated nuts…I am sure there is a joke here, but I just can’t put my finger on it.
I decided to visit a foreign land with remarkable history, a strange culture, and a unique view of the world. It is a place and landscape that I have often seen in video games, television, and movies. It is terrifying.
I visited a museum. This is because my brain thinks “museums are fun”. This statement is mental judo for “I would like to walk around a lot and look at some weird person’s junk collection.”
In this case, the museum was an eclectic collection of weird things next to some things that killed people. I think that instead of an army, this country should just have enemies walk through the museum. “See, here is a fishing net, here is a very long knife, here is a 2 foot high statue of a thumb, here is some historical clothing, and here is some artwork. What do you mean ‘Why is there a thumb’? What kind of museum would not have a thumb? …And we’re walking…” One tour of this museum would pretty much keep all enemies frightened forever. The trip was like observing some strange aspect of human behavior while trying to be separate from it.
The absolutely strange land is called “Washington, D.C.”
As I said, I had only seen Washington, D.C. on television or in video games. The first thing I noticed was that the land was green. In the video games, Washington D.C. has usually suffered slight smoke damage in a rain of some sort of fire (usually nuclear, sometimes laser death ray). In my mind, the town and surrounding area should look like a desolate, post-apocalyptic wasteland. It is also Washington, D.C., the pit of all evil and home of horrible plagues like Congress. I should not have enjoyed the town at all. I enjoyed the town.
Don’t get me wrong. It is the ultimate pit of human corruption and degradation, the traffic looks like the world has ended and there are abandoned cars, and there are restaurants that make Disney look like a non-profit organization. All that aside, I really enjoyed my trip.
I stayed in a hotel, but traveled with a friend who lived there. He and his wife have three young boys. I have never really wanted children. Then I saw my friend and his wife deal with three boys under 9 years old. That totally changed my mind. I am fairly certain that I aged three days for every one spent with them.
I don’t know when parents accept that the primary goal of a boy is apparently to try and destroy himself and anything or anybody nearby. I realized that I had to just hope they didn’t hurt themselves directly in front of me. As I watched, the three activated gas molecules called “boys” bounce around the house from object to object and game to game. I think the average time spent on any one activity was about 0.38 seconds. I felt ancient and decrepit just hearing their voices. I just remember feeling exhausted as I watched them fly around the house, fight, hug each other, play, fight again, hug again, watch me juggle, and call for their mom approximately every 2 seconds.
Thanks to my friend living there. I got to get more efficient tours of the city. I saw many memorials, making me realize that I should probably have read more about American history . There is nothing quite so humbling as walking up to a memorial and realizing that I had no knowledge of the person or events memorialized. “Really, that Abraham Lincoln guy was important to American history? Huh. Never heard of him.”
My friend, his wife, his children and I went to the Smithsonian Air and Space museum and the Smithsonian Natural History museum. It was amazing to see these museums through the eyes of children. They were fascinated by everything, including the McDonald’s french fries and the ketchup packets. Their presence made me enjoy the museum more.
I like to take pictures, but for memorabilia, I collect magnets. This may seem strange, but I have a small house and have to be careful with shelf space. I have plenty of fridge left.
I do have one thing to say to any person or tourist visiting a Smithsonian museum. Take a shower! Use soap! These tasks must be done BEFORE you go to the museum! If you think , “oh I showered a couple days ago, I am sure I am fine”, you are incorrect.
A couple last notes. I was apparently the only person who thought that it was funny that the Dr. Martin Luther king, Jr memorial is carved out of white stone. Then again, I also thought it was funny that the Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial was at the end of a bunch of stairs. Now, that may be because it is incredibly funny. That, or I may be a bit insensitive. Nah.