“Let’s go to D.C. We’re not busy. We’ll cover a fight. It’ll end up being a free trip.”
“Sure. Why not?”
The preceding two weeks were plagued with worry as I obsessively pondered what I would pack, how I would pack. What does obsessively thinking about packing get you? Nothing. You pack just the same, figuring it all out. But, yet, thoughts of getting liquids into 3 oz bottles, packing winter clothes, a large winter coat, a camera, two laptops–danced through my head for days and then on Thursday I spent all of maybe 45 minutes putting it into action.
We make it to Houston’s larger airport, George Bush Intercontinental, with plenty of time to spare. Kels has the foresight to request we eat a meal since the rest of our day is filled with traveling. What would I do without him?
After a vegetarian style taco salad, my last Tex Mex to be had for the next few days, we head to the gate and begin the dreaded WAIT. Dreaded because waiting allows me to think about being on a plane, to mentally snuggle up with thoughts of impending nausea and nervousness. So I sit and pretend to be on social media all the while my heart rate is increasing and there’s a tingling feeling creeping up my arms.
Oh good! US Airways announces there’s no room for carry-ons! The McCarsons hastily proceed to undo all that crazy packing so laptops can be removed and carry-on luggage can be checked. Nothing like dropping to the floor in front of the boarding counter and unpacking and repacking your luggage in front of a large crowd. “Nothing to see here folks. Clearly we just don’t fly very often.”
By the way, you should see us go through security. It’s a disaster and we’re avoided like the plague by fellow travelers.
Bags checked. Boarded.
Seated near the back of the plane (fabulous place to be if susceptible to motion sickness), middle seat (because of course that’s for me and not Kelsey), next to a chatty and nice man from Boston who’s a little concerned once he sees my anti-nausea bands on my wrists. Lucky for him no fluids leave my body for the duration of the flight.
Two-hour flight. Bumpy landing. All of my mental faculties are focused on one thing after landing: GET OFF THE PLANE. Not so fast, Rachel. You’re going to hang out in that middle seat, surrounded by people, with only tiny windows as your connection to the outside world. The motorized ramp that connects the plane to the gate, well, it’s not working. For the next 30-45 minutes the pilot will recount what the broken ramp is doing and what the flight crew is doing–basically the flight crew is watching the broken ramp not work. But don’t worry, they are HOPING it will start working.
Finally two sets of stairs are brought over. We travel down one set from the plane, and up the other to the gate. On this journey down and up stairs, the flight crew has formed a human barricade lest one of us attempts to flee after our short imprisonment on the plane.
Oh, and we missed our connection. Thankfully we’re put on the next flight to Dulles and I now have some time for the nausea to fade.
And for the future, anyone know if there’s a Saint for motion sickness?
Board smaller plane. No longer in a middle seat, but now in a smaller plane, and again seated near the back. This flight is unpleasant. All my strength is focused on not vomiting, and I am victorious.
Fast forward–me sitting near baggage claim in tears and taking deep breaths to stave off the nausea. Why am I crying? It was a physical reaction that couldn’t be stopped. There was no actual reason that could be stated. There were just lots of tears.
Kels is at a loss, going back and forth from knowing there’s nothing he can do to wondering if he should take me to the hospital. My only joy is found in daydreaming that I’m in an “outbreak” style movie and I’m the first person with the deadly virus. Should I asked to be quarantined?
Kels is off seeking solutions, and comes back with a distressed traveler rate for the nearby Doubletree. The hour long bus ride to downtown D.C. doesn’t seem doable at this point. It’s a kink in our plans, and the only thing worse than all the nausea is not showing up at our friend’s house when we said we would–ah, the life of a people-pleaser.
Waiting for the hotel shuttle. IT IS COLD. I am bundled up like Ralphie’s little brother in A Christmas Story, and yet I am fearful I may lose bits of my body to frostbite.
Hotel. Food. Sleep.
After much deliberation, we finally decide to head into D.C. to meet up with our host, Mr. Starks (plural, not singular–our friend is not Iron Man, but is better than Iron Man). Maybe you’re familiar with his work, he’s the editor and founder of The Queensbury Rules.
As far as nausea–the next three days consists of me fighting off waves of nausea and tossing TUMS down my throat ever couple hours. It works.
We successfully take a bus and the rail line to Union Station. Of course, we had help from various locals, all of whom, contrary to what we were told, were very nice. But I suppose it’s difficult to be unhelpful when a traveler with a southern accent asks you a question.
From there we roll our luggage blocks to where our friend works–our delayed arrival has left us with no way to get into his apartment. Another kink in our plans that is very stressful for this people-pleaser.
Keys gotten. Now to catch a cab because we only have 90 minutes to drop off our luggage and head over to the weigh-in. We cross the street because we see the oncoming traffic’s light is red. A lady, who apparently was going to run that red light, is so angry. She proceeds to yell at us from her car, first with the window up, then with the window down, and finally with her head out the window.
I feel good about our first impression we’ve made with D.C.
Cab caught. Enter apartment. Steal apple sauce and raisins. Leave apartment. Walk to weigh-in.
And, of course, the email detailing where the weigh-in is located is all but detailed.
Did you know? Phones from the south can’t handle the cold weather of D.C. Rather than buck up and deal with the cold, they power down. We don’t figure this out until Saturday though.
So, we’re wandering around 9th street, no map because phones have shut down. Kels follows his instincts, and we end up at the Renaissance Hotel and finally at the weigh-in. We have arrived at the exact moment it is starting, which means I start by taking out-of-focus video but make minor improvements before it’s all over.
Now to head home, or to what is home for this weekend. But now we have our trusted friend and fearless guide, David Greisman, who is also quite the salesman–he sold a copy of his book, Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing, to a complete stranger at a Starbucks. (Although, one need not have salesman skills, the book kind of sells itself.)
Home. The writer writes. The videographer edits. I nap.
Then I snack on goods from the nearby 7-11, thanks to our guide Greisman.
Friday night is filled with food, drinks, friends and boxing. What else could I ask for?
We awake to the good news that although our friend was on a path to disaster, he managed to avoid said disaster all around. The day is starting off well.
The morning and early afternoon is dedicated to tourist attractions: Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, WWII Memorial, Reflecting Pool (of Ice), Washington Monument.
We skipped the tour bus ($46 per person–no wonder there was no one on them) and were lucky enough to have a cab driver that not only shared cold weather tips for maintaining your vehicle, but he also told us all about the tourist attractions on the way to the Lincoln Memorial. Fifteen dollars well spent.
We made our way around by keeping our phones next to our bodies, and when we did have to use them one of us would breathe on the phone while the other texted. Crazy tourists. What the hell are they doing?
Our day of touring ended at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History to see their Dinosaur exhibit. We enjoyed our tour and the company of Greisman and his prettier half.
Fortunately, we don’t have to figure out how to get the D.C. Armory on our own–we allow Greisman to chauffeur us to our destination. Sure, our chauffeur gets into a tiff with the parking lot attendant, and we’re chased down when he parks without paying, but in the end we discover only Golden Boy big wigs don’t have to pay for parking. Media making little or nothing, they pay. They pay $20.
At the fight. It’s 4 pm.
What’s with the new trend of undercards starting so early?
The next eight hours or so: fights, writing, photos, interviews.
We leave, and added to our group for the ride home are Starks and Fight Network contributor, Corey Erdman. Yes, five people are heading home by way of a compact car.
Starks mentions something about claustrophobia, I mumble something about occasionally being claustrophobic–and BOOM, bring on the irrational and illogical panic attack.
Greisman begins the drive home. Thirty seconds later I demand he stop the car so Starks and I can take off our winter coats and put them in the trunk. Being cold is much preferred over the feeling of being strangled by your own winter attire. The rest of the drive I mentally alternate between pretended feelings of calmness and GET ME THE F*** OUT OF THIS CAR I CAN’T BREATHE.
“It’s been a pleasure to meet you for the first time Mr. Erdman. I’m a crazy person.”
Also, when you sit in the middle of the backseat of a compact car you find out how big your ass really is. Sorry fellow compact car companions. I’m the reason we had trouble closing the doors.
Photo-editing, beers and sleep. Well, really “nap.” Went to bed at 3:30 am and got up at 6:30 am. Good thing about sleeping three hours–you don’t hit that REM cycle so it’s pretty easy to get up.
We shower, pack, and bundle up. We say goodbye via a grateful look in the direction of our sleeping friend who was so generous as to give us his bed while he took the couch these past two nights.
We walk to Mass, and then by sheer luck find our way to the nearest rail line and head to the airport.
Did you know? Having a safety razor, which uses a traditional razor blade, in your carry-on is a no-no.
We haven’t eaten since the evening before, and are very happy to arrive early enough to have time to eat. And yay!, I purchase a fruit cup that has gone bad. After all I’ve gone through with being nauseous, somehow I purchase and eat two bites of rancid fruit. This can only mean good things for the return trip home.
Flight, nausea, tears. Repeat once.
And that folks, was my trip to D.C.
For coverage of the fight check out Kelsey McCarson’s work over at The Boxing Channel and The Sweet Science.