I don’t think you know how far your emotions can be tested until you take 28 of your favorite students to your college hometown for a weekend.
For a bit of context, you understand that my students live in the polar opposite of Washington, and that DC still occupies the northwest corner of my heart. This field trip has been in the works since January 2015, and my other teacher half and I have put in innumerable hours to make this adventure a reality.
It finally, finally happened. The bus departed at 7 a.m. on a Friday morning in February, and I don’t think anyone slept the whole bus ride there. We were dropped off in front of the White House about seven hours later. They couldn’t believe how small it was. They pointed out the snipers on the roof, and argued about what would happen if they tried to jump the fence. We walked to the Verizon Center to catch the Wizards/Pistons game. I considered the walk just a couple of blocks. I guess it was actually a mile. Oops.
I don’t particularly care for basketball, so I have no idea how the game was, but I had some delicious pizza and got a free t-shirt! When we got back to the hotel, we set curfew at midnight, and please take note of the photo of our diligent door-taping procedures we secured in order to prevent potential purpling. Onward to Saturday.
We toured the Capitol, which went off without a hitch. Our next stop was Bertucci’s for lunch, followed by a tour of GW. They hated Bertucci’s – I guess thin crust pizza isn’t popular in SC. The 38 of us had one tour guide for GW’s campus, meaning no one could quite follow what was going on, and on top of that, everyone was hungry. We got Captain Cookie afterwards, which seemed to temporarily placate them, but oh, just wait.
A note on GW- it was weird. I was walking with one of my best friends from college through the Marvin Center, gossiping about the latest fraternity to be kicked off campus, with my students in tow. It felt weird. It was like my two lives had merged into one on the corner of 20th and H. I couldn’t help but feel that they were out of place. In 2013, the Washington Post ran an article about how GW was fighting its “rich-kid reputation.” My kids looked around campus, looked around their info session, and they didn’t see anyone who looked like them. I can’t blame them for being disinterested. The whole time I was battling the internal debate of whether or not this tour was a good idea in the first place.
After Captain Cookie (God bless), we went to the Mall. Let me tell you. They were VERY disappointed to find out that this was not actually a mall. We did the museums. I think my brain farted and forgot that museums are actually, uh, boring. I dragged students through the National Gallery pointing out nude portraits and racy images, and they could not have been less interested. We had split into small groups for dinner, but as dinner time approached, the small groups got bigger, and my plans for a quick bite at Shake Shack violently erupted. Our group of 10 became 25. I didn’t realize there was a Capitols game that night, and we caught ourselves next to the stadium, an hour before game time, trying to find dinner. LOL. Another fun detail – it was about a 30 minute walk from the museum to Shake Shack, bringing our total walking milage for the day to around 7 miles. Shake Shack was packed, and long story short, we stood on a street corner in DC for an hour waiting for our bus to come pick us up and drive us to an all-you-can-eat buffet in Arlington.
This is also about the point where all the Advil and Prozac had worn off, and Ms. Abram was at her, erm, rawest. I cried on the bus ride to dinner and wrote an emotional letter of resignation. (It ended with “if not me, who? if not now, when?” I scrapped it eventually.) I ditched the group to eat at Popeye’s, where I dined on french fries and diet coke, and listened to one of my favorite boys tell a story about the time that he thought he got his period.
I am thankful to have wonderful and thoughtful peers who realized that I was on the verge of breakdown and sent me to bed the moment we arrived at the hotel.
Sunday was a fresh start, and it contains the memories I hold near and dear to my heart. We started at the WWII memorial, where I showed them how to take corny pictures that looked like they were holding the Washington monument, and they thought it was the coolest thing in the world. We moved on to the Lincoln, where I pointed out the typo on the right hand side to one student, who promptly showed it to every other child on the trip. I took a group around the back of the Lincoln to look at the Potomac. We stood in the same spot where MLK delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech. We took so many pictures. We walked over to the Vietnam memorial, and it started to pour, and we ran back to the bus. We hopped off again at the MLK memorial, to stand in the rain and read the inscriptions on the memorial. We drove up to Howard University to wander the quad for a half hour, and when we got back on the bus, every student announced their intention to attend Howard after graduation.
We stopped at an actual mall on our way back to SC (you’re welcome, kids). Even though we didn’t arrive home until 10 p.m. on Sunday night, every one of us was at school Monday morning wearing our new Wizards t-shirt.
Overall, the weekend was much like a ride on an elevator. It had its ups and downs.