|Washington D.C., 1997|
Borrowed/re-posted from Wandering Still
I started college when the internet was still a novelty. Sitting in the campus library I signed up on a Christian dating site and quickly met two fantastic people. One of those people was Jason and it was only a matter of months before I hopped on a plane to New Jersey to meet him. My mom dropped me off at the airport a little confused and a lot scared and horrified. I figured that out when I didn't think to call her upon arrival and she hunted me down by phone at Jason's grandmothers home.(Important clarification: Jason and I were always just friends. Our hotel rooms always had two beds and we never even held hands. I'm not sure my family has ever believed me.)
I learned a lot of important life lessons while cavorting around the country to meet Jason. Here area few of the gems that stayed with me:
Always have food available for the needy.
I met Jason's grandmother that very first weekend. In her kitchen drawer, where you and I might keep the dishtowels or utensils, she had a full stock of SPAM, just in case somebody ever stopped by collecting for the food bank.
There really is a wrong side of the tracks.
On a business trip in Baltimore, Jason's company put us up in the nicest hotel I've ever stayed in . One night while out on a walk we crossed a bridge and immediately found ourselves in the most run-down neighborhood I've ever been in. I was terrified and even Jason gave pause as we walked in one block, over one block, and out one block. A girl followed two steps behind singing the theme from "Reading Rainbow" until we reached the bridge where she stopped and we high-tailed it back to luxury.
Security guards do a lot of looking at you funny, not much anything else.
Washington D.C. is fountain mecca and where I took my first wet foray. (Don't panic, I never got up the nerve to actually walk through the reflecting pool on the National Mall!) This is where I also learned that the Benjamin Franklin monument is very slippery and that getting on a subway train while soaking wet is a freezing cold terrible idea.
I don't know why I eat the way I do.
Slipping into a local diner and sharing an order of fries, Jason looked perplexed when I quit eating halfway through. When he asked why I answered without thinking, "Those ones don't have ketchup on them." Only then did I realize I had that little oddity. I pour ketchup all over the top of my fries and quit eating as soon as the ketchup-ed fries are gone.
Any place can be interesting.
Several times Jason's work took him to Killeen, TX, and I'd meet him down there. Killeen, TX, is to pawn shops what Washington D.C. is to water fountains. Aside from the military base there is no reason to go there. South of Killeen, however, is Georgetown, TX, and a beautiful bed and breakfast with rooms in the carriage house. Heading north halfway to my home in Iowa you'll find Wichita, KS-also a very boring city. But if you're their on the right night you'll witness the most incredible lightening storm and then have the adventure of getting stuck in flash flooding.
Criminals can look just like you and me.
Jason always told me his older brother had been exiled from the country for bank embezzling. Once while on a country drive he nonchalantly asked if I'd ever done anything illegal and then told me the details of his entrepreneurial side business producing fake credit cards for teenagers. One of the last times I saw him he got notice that he was to have a meeting at the Pentagon and shortly after that a letter letting me know he wouldn't be contacting me anymore. Either the most elaborate "Hey, I don't want to see you anymore" I've ever received, or a guy who got himself into some big trouble. I'm still leaning towards the later.
And that's a shame. I will forever look back on that relationship as one of the truest and most free of my lifetime. The adventures we had and experiences I gained still make my happy heart leap. We all need that one moment in time where the person we're with and the places we are fit magically into place and continue making us feel giddy, happy, goofy, and free no matter how it ended or where it led.
Now you're heard mine, so tell me, when were your "fountain days?"
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