The Reunion Tour, Day 12: Political craziness and clubbing in the national capital of DC


I awoke after a fantastic night's sleep at June's place, and off she and I went to seize the day. There was only 11 hours before we were going to meet up with the Transsiberian group, so we had little time to waste!

The first thing I ask June is if people in DC are more politically involved. Yesterday's tour guide informed our group that almost everyone in DC is a transplant, as there are rarely people "originally from the area." June tells me that she feels that anyone who would bother moving to DC must have some strong political beliefs, or at least is pretty well-informed. It makes sense.

June and I rode the train downtown to Chinatown, where she gave me a tour of the area. The downtown area, in my opinion, didn't have much character, much like the loop in Chicago, but even less so. A lot of the buildings of the area are new and flashy and shiny, as opposed to the old character that the Loop's skyscrapers bring. It's very commercialized here, as June explained the Chinatown area has become less of a cultural hub and more of an area where McDonalds and Hooters signs are translated into Chinese characters.

June and I started walking west as she had a doctor's appointment in the area. I heard booming choral music, and when I hear booming choral music not inside of a church, my mind immediately goes to Nazis, as it makes me think of the Blues Brothers. I mention this to June, and it appears we're walking closer to the sound. We come into a plaza and the noise becomes recognizeable as "God Bless America," and there is a small pro-Trump rally in the middle of the square. I am going to be extremely cynical of this, so bare with me/enjoy.

There is a crowd of no more than 20 people gathered in the massive grassy square, and there is a parade float parked on the street by the group with large letters spelling TRUMP. This is the source of the music. The people are waving American flags and Trump/Pence signs, and finally, a woman stands up to the podium, er, park bench, to speak. She says she's not really great at speaking in front of crowds (this isn't a crowd, it's a classroom-sized cluster of people), but she wanted to express her gratitude at the people who turned out for this rally today. She and her two friends created an event on Facebook and never could have imagined the turnout! The whole turnout of 20 people! She tells the crowd that they're here to support Trump and all that he's doing. The strangest part of it all was that there was no real message, no real action. For the fifteen minutes that we sat there and watched, several people spoke, but nothing was said. Just..."go Trump" I guess.

Meanwhile, anyone that is ten feet or more from the so-called rally seems to be amused by it. A white male couple is recording it on their phones, chuckling. A black man walks by and shakes his head. June and I take pictures and keep a good distance. We do not want to be associated as members of this cluster. I tell June I'd never want to live here. June says that these people are definitely from out of town, as DC is very liberal. Even still.

June heads off to her appointment and we agree to meet in about an hour, while I encounter the strangest of strange protests in the park just behind the White House. First, there is a small stage erected for a crowd of about 40 people. The large banner behind the podium reads "The government is stealing our children." When I approach any protest, I am first trying to determine if I am on their side or not. I am not sure if these people are drug-addled parents whose children were seized from them rightly, or if this is some other thing that may garner my support. Whose children? Who in the government? I don't know...yet.

I walk around the protest and around the statue in the middle of the park and see a woman giving an on-camera interview. It's not any reputable news station, just a woman with a camera and a microphone. The woman being interviewed is holding a sign that reads something along the lines of "down with Hillary" and "stop the monarchy" with little butterfly cutouts around it. Oh, this lady isn't talking about a royal monarchy, this is a reference to the illuminati. YES...there's a park bench ten feet away, perfect for eavesdropping on the crazy. I sit myself down and listen in.

The woman with the sign seems sympathetic towards Hillary Clinton, stating that "Hillary has mentioned several times about feeling like she was not in control...that means that she has been brainwashed with the MK ultra program the government has been using to increase the illuminati presence in our media." Yes, yes, this is all the crazy I've been wanting to hear all day.

While I eavesdrop on the MK ultra lady, I peek over again to the children protest going on on my left, which I now realize is about Pizzagate. The people in the crowd believe there are sex trafficking rings run by the senators, the local government, and Hillary Clinton. OMG yes this is so much crazy. Then, I hear the all-too-familiar sound of "God Bless America" and the Trump parade float rolls on in and parks itself beside the park and I am literally surrounded on all sides by crazy. The Pizzagate protesters applaud upon the arrival of the Trump float. The pro-Trump people from before arrive via foot to the plaza, and before they can protest or root for Trump or do whatever they're hoping to do, I hear a male pro-Trump rally-er get on the microphone and shout "We have a permit! We can protest! Also, that man just tried to steal the microphone!" The whole place is a circus, and just as I think those thoughts, two men walk past my park bench and one mutters to the other "We live in SUCH a crazy place."

I head off to go meet June, and by now the pro-Trump rally has dissipated. I hear the guy running the parade float scroll through music as it booms through the speakers. He scrolls through a split second each of about ten songs, all very American, like "Born in the USA" until settling back on the "God Bless America" track from before. I'd complain that it's the 40th time I've heard them play it, but by now I'm leaving so I don't really care anymore.

Eventually I meet up with June, and we hop on a bus to the Georgetown neighborhood which reminds me of something slightly suburban and slightly small-town quaint. The architecture screams cutesy, but the stores are all Dean & Deluca or Starbucks or high-end retail. We grab some sandwiches and sit along the empty riverfront while watching a couple awkwardly do an engagement photoshoot. Has there ever been a non-awkward engagement photoshoot? I don't think there has.

We grab some cupcakes at Baked & Wired before heading off to see the cherry blossoms with June's friend. We then wander off to June's place so I can take a much-needed nap to get some energy for this evening. When June wakes me, I rush to get ready as we're running late and it's time to meet up with the Transsiberian crew.

We go to Mari Vanna, per Ihita's recommendation, and it's amazing to see the crew all there (well, minus Amanda, who couldn't make it). David, Ihita, June and Shanika are all there and we catch up on our lives since we were last all together.

After dinner, David's friend joins us and we all head off to The Heist in Dupont Circle, a jewelry heist-themed nightclub/bar with dazzling diamond ceiling lights and big screens showing black and white security camera footage of real-life heists. The size of the place was perfect, but it was the type to have bottle service and therefore some unnecessary exclusion in certain areas of the club.

We see a group of guys hanging out at the bar and David's friend heads up to one of them to strike up a conversation. Much to our single ladies'  disappointment, the entire group is married. Yet, none of them are wearing rings and we're pretty sure we just saw them checking out multiple ladies on the dancefloor. Disappointed but not upset, we head off to the nearby Irish Whiskey Public House.

Later in the night we ended up in Brixton in U Street, where I've never been more felt-up at a nightclub in my life. Shanika, June and I were constantly brushing off guys' very forward advances of grabbing our waists and hips from behind without our consent, and it was getting exhausting. Nevertheless, we stayed until the lights went on and off we went to sleep.

Tomorrow I have a brief morning with June before I return to Chicago.