Recently, I had the pleasure of staying with a dear friend in DC for 10 days. I had not been to DC since I was 11 – for a 6th grade field trip. We toured all of the proper historical sites that a 6th grader should when they are learning about the establishment of our country. The DC I stayed in during that time was dirty, dilapidated, disgusting, and a sorry homage to our founding fathers. Present day DC is a much nicer, neat and clean place to visit/live. I was very impressed with how sparkly the city has become over the past couple of decades (holy shit, I am dating myself, aren’t I?!)
The city has also gone the extra mile to upgrade their tour guides from the dull, monotone guides I was subjected to during my field trip (long ago, in a galaxy far, far away…..). In fact, I would go so far as to say that our guide was one of the most interesting tour guides I have ever come across in any place I have visited, thus far. Bill has lived in DC for the past 20 years, so he can appreciate how good ol’ Marion Barry has cleaned up the place. He remembers the days of livin’ in the ghetto. Regardless of the significant trade-offs, Mr. Barry was able to decrease the crime rates tremendously – ah, the advantages to having friends in the Mafia…..
My friend had befriended Bill on a Yoga Retreat/Teacher Training a few years back. She was immediately intrigued by him because he was: A.) the only black person amongst the retreat members; B.) he was enraged at the fact that he was even there; C.) he was participating in a sold out training without having ever practiced yoga. He ruminated about the retreat because there was no smoking or drinking allowed, and definitely NO meat! Here he was in beautiful Mexico, without the opportunity to drink copious amounts of tequila, smoke himself silly and then eat a greasy burrito to sober himself back up – I would be pissed too. In fact, I would probably leave and ask for a full refund – for clean living is definitely not on the brochure from the Mexico Tourism Bureau. He explained that he was forced into this predicament because he lost a bet. Bill should not gamble, ever again. Nor does he practice yoga either.
After splitting a sundae and story telling, our personalized tour began in Embassy Row. Bill has a wonderful reputation in the community because he has an all access pass to most people’s homes in the area. We toured a lovely home of a friend of his that he said he was house-sitting for. Although, I was curious as to why he continued to allow the mail to pile up outside on the front porch, I decided it was not my business to ask – after all, these people were wealthy enough, they most likely had hired a separate “mail sitter” while they’re out of town. People who have met (and been photographed) with every President since Carter can afford such luxuries that I couldn’t not justify, given my current “employment” status.
Upon leaving Embassy Row, we ventured over to Adams Morgan – the area where Bill has resided for much of his time in DC. He was adamant that he show us some of the “real” history he had experienced in DC as a young hoodlum. We made our way to one of his old haunts. To gain entry to this particular venue, one must know their membership number, the owner’s name and the secret password, plus order a beer before they would consider you worthy enough to play pool in their establishment. As a Harvard graduate and first African-American man to be accepted to Eaton, I had to appreciate that he also added Hustler to his already impressive resume.
Another one of her friends I met loves to make movies as a hobby, but produces Public Service Announcements for various government agencies by trade. I had a couple of things in common with him: Number 1.) We have both lived in Colorado and Number 2.) Neither one of us understands why. When I asked him why he left Colorado, his reply was simple, “I moved back to the city, from Telluride, because I missed two things – Crime and Art.” He doesn’t seem to be totally sold on living in DC either, however, because he says he doesn’t fit in for a few reasons: “He is not old; He is not white; and He plus his 7 co-workers can fit into one elevator.”