Last weekend, Kyle, Lucy, our elderly dog Donald and I packed up the car and drove from New York to D.C. for 48 hours in our nation’s capitol. Although Lucy was hesitant to interrupt her busy schedule of pulling lamp cords and eating fistfuls of cat hair, she was surprised on her arrival to receive two helium balloons tied with string to a beanie baby (and in all of human history, a greater artifact has never been discovered).
We stayed with my aunt and uncle, who have the kind of house you want to absorb every part of so you can replicate it one day, and be 60 and hosting dignitaries and philosophers for a delicious eight part dinner you threw together in an hour with no effort while rhapsodizing about your years spent traveling in Africa. They make a huge sectional sofa match antique Asian (I think) chairs and a (maybe) Afghan rug with the bust of a guy in a backwards baseball hat my cousin made in 8th grade effortlessly. They get up early and show you to their coffee station and then take you on a walking tour of the National Cathedral gardens and farmers market before you’ve even had first breakfast. The level of energy and goodwill was inspiring.
Saturday morning, we tied Donald up in the backyard to laze in the sunshine and get frustrated chasing squirrels with limited mobility. We packed bottles for Lucy and 400 toys to keep her occupied while we ran around D.C. like lunatics on speed trying to hit every museum and still find time to drive by the White House and wave to the Obamas like eighth graders.
Our first stop was the Hirshhorn (the Smithsonian’s museum of international modern and contemporary art) a.k.a. the “I don’t get it” museum. Here we see Kyle showing Lucy her first Rothko, while explaining that this is the guy who causes 75% of grandmothers to remark, “what’s the fuss, even I could paint that.”
Lucy’s interest in modern art was no doubt piqued.
(Am I the only one whose baby’s head looks completely detached from her body when she falls asleep in her stroller? Like it’s about to tilt off her neck and roll loudly off her body onto the floor? I’m afraid someone is going to call the cops on me one of these days. I generally encourage her to use a stuffed monkey as a pillow so it’s slightly less horrifying.)
I found myself so inspired that I decided to do a little improvisational art, captured here by my husband. I call this one “Dan Flavin x Sophie the $28 giraffe.”
Perfect advice for anyone with a newborn:
Next we went to the National Museum of the American Indian, where we had a delicious lunch, and I undoubtedly impressed my tablemates with my knowledge that in the bean, squash, and corn dish called “The Three Sisters,” the beans, squash, and corn actually referred to the three sisters in native american legend (I’m always pleased to have the opportunity to prove I went to college).
Lucy sat in a wooden high chair for the first time!
I also drank a half gallon of diet coke, which is not authentically native.
We also took a high-speed tour of the National Air and Space Museum, which was absolutely packed. Trying to navigate a giant BOB jogging stroller through a tightly packed aeronautical museum is certainly the circle of hell that Dante forgot to mention.
Our last stop of the day with the National Portrait Gallery. Here we are trying to figure out what Bill Gates is looking at.
And lest you think I’m sophisticated and global for visiting all of these museums, my only real incentive was the opportunity to take this photo, of my husband next to a butt:
We walked something like 8 or 9 miles around D.C. on Saturday, so that night we ate four loaves of bread dipped in cheese followed by sandwiches for dinner at a local restaurant, and then went to bed at the ungodly hour of 10pm.
Sunday morning, Kyle and I took Lu to the playground for her first go at the baby swings. It was CUTE.
We also went to the National Museum of Natural History, where, for some reason, we mainly focused on the Minerals and Gems exhibit, where we watched throngs of tourists take flash photos of diamond bracelets and necklaces through a thick wall of smudged glass, a baffling activity.
Of course we also visited Lucy’s sort of namesake, the early hominid Australopithecus:
I’m pretty sure the rest of Sunday involved full body collapse into various states of nap (me on the bed, kyle on the floor) while Lucy continued to investigate the balloons tied to a beanie baby and searched the dining room floor for any small flecks of garbage that may have been missed by a vacuum to dispense gleefully into her mouth.
On Sunday night, we gave Lucy a bath and a bottle, dressed her in pajamas, and loaded up the car to drive back at night. While Kyle and I were both exhausted (and only survived the drive at all thanks to several icy cans of diet mountain dew, gross, I know), it was blissfully peaceful. We got to actually talk, like, discuss things other than whether Lucy had had a nap yet or did you feed the dog, a rare treat for new parents. We might have even remembered why we like each other, especially after the incident where I made Kyle pose next to a butt sculpture and then posted it on the internet.
I still can’t believe how much we packed into two days. For anyone who has a similar trip coming up with an infant, my only advice is to do whatever you want to do: the baby will be fine. And take lots of pictures, because they won’t remember a thing. (And someday they might want a FutureFacebook profile #tbt of them thoughtfully admiring a Rothko.)