Down the rabbit hole and into the looking glass

Yesterday was an odd but beautiful sort of day: the kind of day that I look for everyday but if I got it would make my life much more interesting than I could possibly handle. It started with an afternoon expedition to the Sakura Matsuri Festival on Penn Ave under the imminent threat of rain. As the sky alternately shone like stadium lights and drizzled like a drooling baby, the festival was in full swing as people sampled bastardized versions of various Asian cuisines and delighted in staged performances. I wound up watching a Cosplay Contest where the Harajuku influence was quite evident. My favorites were a group of country Lolita gals (one of whom, I believe, was cross dressing) and a group of teenage Naruto fans who were geekily, charmingly funny in their responses. Both presenters were quite obviously Japanese and usually flummoxed but the male presenter made up for it by being unbearably pretty.

Afterwards, I made way back down Penn Ave, passing by several Sake/Beer gardens decked out in cutesy paper flowers, a Wii tent with a DDR competition going strong, and various arts and crafts booths. I dearly coveted the paper crane earrings and hand-blown/painted candy but ran short on cash and patience. At the GO tent, I watched a game in progress between a regular player and a neophyte. Educational and entertaining.

Each time I came upon a booth selling anime or cute t-shirts or kimonos I dearly wished Nazia and Vivian were there to share the experience with me. Which accounts for my stopping by a woodworking/calligraphy booth to get wood pendants inscribed with the phrases “Morning Flower” and “Evening Flower” in Japanese for them. At the Cherry Blossom Tea tent, I sipped tea alongside a beautifully polite and affable man and his children. His son (eight or nine years old?), reminded gently by his father, introduced himself to me then asked with great enthusiasm if I had noticed any tents selling anime and manga products along my way. To which I laughed and explained that there was a whole section of the festival down the street devoted to J-Pop. The boy grinned ear to ear, and the father offered his farewells as they roamed off. This, and the whole day really, is why I love the geek community.

Partly to commemorate this auspicious interaction and partly because I am an avid fan of cherry blossoms, I bought a batch of blooming blossoms tea which I am now drinking, and it is heavenly. It smells and tastes exactly of sweet cherry blossoms. Magnificent.

Took in the sights, gazed longingly at some kimonos, had the Japanese paper art Washi explained to me, and followed a crowd to a magnificent performance of drums and dancing. The men played drums and alternated performances with the dancing women. The nihon buyo dancers were like dolls come to life. The occasional, high-pitched “hai” only served to accentuate that illusion. Very cute and a definite sight to see. By the time I was ready to move on the crowd had doubled.

Next, I took a breather and sat watching a kendo exhibition while munching on the roasted almonds I bought earlier. Fun, especially when they brought out a little boy who enthusiastically attempted to hit the target with little miniscule cries of attack.

At that point, I made my way towards the White House, saw that the line stretched down several blocks and detoured around the National Treasury to the back of the White House. None of which I recall ever seeing before in all my twenty-one years of living twenty minutes away from DC. There were the usual protestors behind the White House. The great, white building seemed such a calm place for the epicenter of all the turmoil that has wracked the nation these past seven years. Further along, I found the Renwick Gallery, which I’m sorry to have missed all these years. It held a fascinating collection of Ornament as Art. In my hurry to catch the Bhangra Block Party at GW, I skipped merrily out of there as soon as I had availed myself of their plumbing facilities. After asking for directions from some policemen, I tramped along ’til I reached the Farragust West station. Reaching GW was a frustrating, though ultimately useful, exercise in directions. But I then put one foot in front of the other to reach Georgetown. Finally made it to Big Planet in time to play catch up on Simone’s run of Wonder Woman. Then picked up some drinks and a yogurt parfait from Dean & Deluca to enjoy on the waterfront. My poor feet were begging me to just pick a spot and rest my bum at this point but I persevered along the entire waterfront ’til I found a bench right in front of a rowing center, on the far end of the front and sat enjoying the sun, the parfait, and Pterry’s Wintersmith.

Far more time passed than I had been aware of before I finally made my way back to the Foggy Bottom stop to go home. I passed the Watergate complex and a bevy of Kennedy Center go-ers on my way. On the metro, reluctant to have the day end, I made an impulse decision to stop by Dupont Circle and wander for a bit before I went back. Here was where my day truly took a turn for the odd. Popped into Kramerbooks and Beadazzled, then made my way to the circle itself to sit down and write the day’s happenings. There was a great crowd of people enjoying the weather and indulging in various activities. Amongst them, next to me sat three very amiable gentlemen, one of whom was drawing very detailed portraits of various people in the circle, and another of whom, named Ephim Schluger, I held a varied and lengthy conversation with. Ephim was clearly looking to share his thoughts and the wonderful sunset with someone, and I was the lucky recipient of his colorful and charismatic conversation. I stayed on ’til almost nine chatting with him over various cities’ future plans and the worries and cares of the world, how insular and conservative American culture had become and so forth. It was englightening, engaging, and it had have convinced me to return to university in the fall.

The other half of convincing me fell to Ms. Angela Wu, attorney for the Becket Fund, and a friendly woman I met while waiting for the train. I was attempting to open my bottle of Sierra Mist w/o having it run all over my fingers, so I was sitting on a bench, holding the bottle up to eye level and twisting the cap on and off like some psychotic paranoid. She came over to laugh in commiseration of the quandary I found myself in, and I awkwardly attempted a conversation. I think she was a bit taken aback by my lack of social niceties but apparently I was interesting enough to continue a dialogue with. We learned very little about each other in the ten minutes we conversed but I felt at least a whiff of the kindred spirit about her, and I now hold a business card which declares her line of work. A line of work defending religious liberty (all religions, not just the monotheistic ones), which I find beyond commendable.

So yesterday was a good day. Inexplicable in some ways, but good.