It’s the first year in DC that I stay until late spring in June. And I feel obliged to check out Capital Pride.
I skip all the parties and the parade. Unfortunately, I missed the Equality March due to time conflict with my regular Sunday gym class. (Obviously, that’s my priority.) The only event I go is the Festival.
But I stay there for about two hours because the heat and humidity is just too unbearable. Although I find some similarities and differences with Sydney Mardi Gras, it is too much to dig deep into it. Besides, the event doesn’t really engage to stay until my volunteer shift starts at 7.30 pm. So, I just log on the volunteer portal and cancel it. They could live without me.
It’s the first LGBT celebration since I left Sydney. My takeaway is that I have moved on. It doesn’t get me excited and having fun with discovering and sharing it like I took photos of Fair Day event for the first time ten years ago.
In fact, I have been over this scene for a long time. My last engagement with Mardi Gras was in 2010 when I got a rooftop spot to shoot the whole parade. However, I consider my early works on LGBT exposed myself to the world and I am grateful for that. That could be the main reason for my feeling of obligation for the Pride this year.
I thought I would dodge the cold weather this winter. When I landed in the city, it was snowing just a tiny bit. That was pretty much about it in February. Until March a snow storm hit the northeast mid March. Unlike last year, DC was far south of the storm centre.
Even so, the warm weather in February triggered some of the flowers to bud. Those whom was tricked got damaged. Magnolia, for instance, was the first to come out and went brown in the cold snap.
That included almost half of the cherry blossoms. However, some late bloomers caught up to fill in.
Apparently, I went to Tidal Basin, exactly the same date as last year. It gave a good comparison to this year’s visitors.
It’s a full day in Detroit and could be a chance to explore the Motor city. But after the intense night of internal journey, I feel like taking it easy with no concrete plan. That turns out to be a long interesting excursion.
The first thing in the morning is to get breakfast. Apparently, there are not many choices around the AirBNB place I stay. In fact, the only café opens on Sunday morning is quite a walk away. I don’t mind it at all as that gives me some good snapshots of the neighbourhood.
The blights are still apparent. But there are some renovations going on as well. Even though I’m very into abandoned places, this is not in the right time to go deep into it, not when I haven’t done background research.
Nice walk, exquisite muesli and lovely muffin, then what’s next? Look it up to and pin the destination to GM Renaissance Centre it is. That’s a long walk but it’s a riverside walk. And hey, there’s actually a brewery along the way. Let’s just make it the first stop.
At Atwater Brewery, I start to seriously think about crossing border to Canada. And so, the next destination is a brewery in Windsor. As an Australian passport holder, there shouldn’t be a problem about it. But the real issue for me is how to get to the right information about the Tunnel Bus service to take me there.
There’s the last bus stop in Detroit to pick up passengers just outside GM Renaissance Centre. But I have to walk around and around to find it. The location of the bus stop is on Google Map but there’s no direction sign of it on the ground. I finally get there and find it does look just like a normal bus stop with no ticket office. The fare is $5 (either US or Canadian) but I have to pay double because the bus only accepts cash with no change and the smallest note I have is $10. The whole process of this frustrates and tires me physically and mentally. But that adds to my new learning experience.
With this frustration and tiredness, I become so goofy when responding to the Canadian Border officer. My short answer to why I am entering Canada is ‘just to get a beer’. It feels that I make an honest fool of myself but seems honest enough to get a stamp.
It feels different in Canada. Of course, it is not USA but there is some atmosphere that is more resemble to Australia. I can’t explain but feel it. Maybe this is just a bias. Even at Craft Heads Brewery, where I spend the rest of the afternoon and enjoy huge range of craft bee, give the same comfy as a pub in Sydney.
Catching the bus back to Detroit seems to be easier now but with a sniffer dog at the US side. I end up in a random bar in Detroit’s downtown for dinner and one last local beer.
The day with no real plan turns to be a long exploration. I take over 20,000 steps of walking (around 12.8 km) with six beers from two breweries and a bar in two countries. I am tired.
After all this time in Washington DC, I get to get out of town, finally. Intentionally, the first city I’d like to visit is Detroit. That’s for some good reasons—to get the sense of changing urban landscape and to see Sigur Rós concert. It turns out to be one of my self-revelation peaks.
Saturday in the Detroit is actually quite short. It is almost 6pm when I get to downtown to walk around the city whereas the show starts at 8.30pm. So, there isn’t much time to explore the famous urban decay. Although there are many abandoned buildings, it is not as dramatic as it sounded years ago.
Probably, the city is slowly in reincarnation phase. You get the sense of city’s rebounding from local creative business like local breweries such as one I have at Detroit Beer Company. It has a long history of art and music scene. I can see it now from Fox Theater. The over-the-top Art Deco interior just amazes me. I wish I could explore more and more.
While waiting for the show, the combination of the theatre’s visual stimulant and the meditative walk-in music put me to process the whole experience so far. My head keeps chanting ‘I’m in Fox Theater in Detroit to see Sigur Rós’. An intense journey I haven’t had for a long time kicks off.
During the first half of the show, my emotion gets so overwhelmed by self-reflection that I start to sob.
I’ve been soul searching since I made the big move to this current job in DC last year. (That includes the trip to Sydney in May-June this year and I should blog about it later.) And lately, I have convinced myself as an INFP. It ticks the boxes I question about my own decisions in my life. The evening with the mantra ‘I’m in Fox Theater in Detroit to see Sigur Rós’ has just put a nail on it.
Understanding myself as an INFP processes me why I wanted to visit Detroit before anywhere else in the States and why Sigur Rós. For the first time in many years I think I’m clear why I’m here, hence, where and how I’d like to go further.
It’s a short day with a long internal journey in Detroit. In the end, it gets you the feeling of self-discovery. Everything seems to make sense now. All effort is worth it and the rest of the trip is the bonus. I shall move forward and explore.
In the early days in Washington DC, when people asked me “What do you think about DC?” I rolled my eyes and sighed because it was just too soon to tell plus the stress of the relocation. Now, with eight months of my job contract is over and I’m about to leave the city, I can look back and see what I can come up with. Photo is the usual visual diary to document I find in everyday life and Instagram is the usual channel for sharing it.
Here are some of the things I find in eight months living in Washington DC.