4 in 4: “Reflecting Pool”

Three guys in that post-race glow, reliving every moment of the competition in between off-key renditions of Taylor Swift and anything we knew really. The Yaris was flying up I-95 towards Falls Church, Virginia, another leafy suburb just outside of another city, Washington, DC.

One of my old coaches Neil Harvey used to say something about being athletes not tourists and he had a valid point, pre-race you really shouldn’t be spending too much energy on things that don’t pertain to competition. But we’d performed well, and being so close to D.C. we just had to go.

Couldn’t hang around with Obama too long though, we needed to make our flights out of Richmond the next evening.

— — — — -

“Jake told us to go to Chik-Fil-A. Let’s hit the one up here!”

“Shit…they’re closed.”

“On a Sunday? I thought this was America?!?”

Lucky for us the Waffle House was open. It’s always open and that’s the beauty of it. The Waffle House is one of those rare spots where you can get a juxtaposition of people who would normally never be together in same place. The rich guy, fresh off the plane from a business trip saddled next to the immigrant family looking for a feed on the cheap. As the pie seemingly shrinks for so many, it’s a slice of America that can still be widely shared. And god damn are those Waffles good after hard effort.

We rolled up to our AirBnb around 10PM feeling a bit bad because we figured our host would be grumpy due to our late arrival. What we found was that our expectations did not match reality in the best possible way.

Vox, our host, had just returned from a trip to Southeast Asia and as we sat around her backyard fire, heavily nursing our beer we quickly bonded over stories from our overseas adventures. Hers were a little more interesting, but that’s the nature of traveling for competition VS for pleasure. The conversation progressed to why we were there and how we wanted to see the famous monuments. It became apparent pretty quickly we had no clue what we were doing or how we were going to do it.

“Well I can take you guys around and show you them tonight.”

“Uhhhh…actually?”

It turns out midnight on a Sunday is a pretty great time to check out the monuments. We had Jefferson to ourselves, Lincoln we shared with a couple of others. We were like a bunch of kids past their bedtimes, giddy with excitement and fatigue. Running around the statues, reading all the quotes. All the while with mom driving us around and keeping a keen eye, making sure we didn’t get into too much trouble.

Well, maybe not both eyes. And maybe she was cool with a bit of rule breaking.

There’s a scene in “Forrest Gump” where Forrest is speaking about his experience in the Vietnam war to a massive crowd of protesters. They’re on the steps of the Lincoln memorial, overlooking the reflecting pool and the Washington monument. If you’ve seen it you know he ends up running off the stage into the reflecting pool once he sees Jenny, his lifelong love whom he hadn’t seen since he left for the war. For whatever the reason (probably the Jenny embrace) that scene really stuck with me. And being someone who doesn’t like to turn down an experience I decided to get in myself.

The water is really quite shallow. Lots of pennies in there as well. After a bit Russell joined me and we both kind of stood there in this ankle-deep water, child-like smiles on our faces.

“This is unreal”

Just as we got our clothes back on a cop car rolled by. Not sure if you can actually get in too much trouble for that, but I’m glad we didn’t find out. We finished the night with a quick drive by the Capitol building and Georgetown University. The uni seemed like a very nice place and now I can understand the hype a little better :)

The next morning after Vox cooked us breakfast (great host!) we headed back to Richmond. Our bellies full and souls satisfied.

Of course, there were still hills yet to climb.