Traveling to DC as an Introvert

It’s been a while since my D.C. trip, and I’m ashamed to admit I’ve just now regained the energy and motivation to document the experience. For 9 days my mother and I roamed the city, taking in all the touristy things. Quick list of the week’s activities in order:

  • Navigating the train/bus metro system
  • The Newseum
  • The National Holocaust Museum
  • The Bureau of Engraving and Printing
  • Touring the Capital
  • Library of Congress
  • Washington Monument
  • Supreme Court
  • China Town
  • Museum of the American Indian
  • Thomas Jefferson Memorial
  • Lincoln Memorial
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Pokémon Worlds Championship 2019
  • The White House
  • The National Gallery of Art

DC deserved more time and we didn’t get to see everything. There were several more places to visit, but running from 9am to 10pm day in and day out in that August heat wore us down. Not only did I need a day to recover (my mom took two), I discovered how being away from home that long takes its emotional toll.

I’ve traveled for work and I’ve spent whole months living in a hotel. However, something about this trip stood out greatly. For an introvert, sharing a room with my mom was tasking. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy her company and the trip wouldn’t’ve been the same without her, but I learned that for me, it was too close. There wasn’t a single day in which I was able to sit in quiet by myself. Quiet we had, by myself I had, but not the two simultaneously.

I’m working on how to communicate better and being more vocal about my needs. There were times in which I had to tell her, “I’m just hot. I’m tired and I’m hot, so I’m getting cranky.” Or, “I think nine days is too long for a trip. I’m ready to be back in my bed.” I don’t think there’s anything selfish about this, and it didn’t ruin the fun. In fact, my mom and I talked about it. She kind of laughed about how I calmly stated, “I don’t know which bus, I’ve never been here and this app is getting on my nerves.” We talked about it, and we figured it out. She was incredibly patient with me, more patient than I’ve ever known her to be.

It was all because of our communication and calmly stating what we wanted and needed each hour of the day. There were times I’m sure she was irritated by my asks, and I solidly remember a moment I was irritated at hers. However, that’s what partners do – they have to own their needs, communicate them, and the other person has to make room for them.

I wish I had known this growing up; I wish I had been a strong enough person to ask for my needs. I don’t think having discovered honest communication at an earlier date would fundamentally change who I am or make me place any less emphasis on said communication. In fact, I think I’d be an even stronger, more open person today. A good take away is having the patience with myself to develop on my own time line and encouraging others to develop on their own.

I learned so much more than what the museums offered. I saw the strength and generosity of my mother first hand, over night, for nearly two weeks. For a 50+ year old woman learning how to use the internet to travel, it was amazing. She was obsessed with google maps and even ventured out by herself taking to the rail system and navigating her way back. She demanded I teach her how to use Lyft before we left DC, and became a DoorDash wizard by the end of the week. I think lightning’s ignited something in her, she’s already asking about our next trip.

27 years old and on Aug. 15, 2019 I saw my Constitution for the first time. I wept at the Lincoln Memorial, reading his second inaugural in which he recognizes racism as the fundamental cancer of our society. I walked the trench as the names of the war-fought dead loomed high over head. I rejoiced to see Jefferson’s scrawl declaring a free nation, while my heart broke to witness the mechanisms of the Indian Removal Act.

DC is a beautiful, haunting, complicated place with significance on each corner.

It took a few days for me to decompress the experience and recharge emotionally. The hiatus is finally over.

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