2016, as everyone is already perfectly aware, has done its level best to suck. And, more often than not, it has succeeded. With style–2016, I’ll give you that. You certainly kicked ass. Just not the awesome way (usually). The really sucky way (mostly).
While wandering around spending far too much on gifts in the vague hope of bringing smiles and joy to people I care about (consumerism FTW!), I suddenly and for no reason I’ve been able to discern remembered the absurd beginning to my year. I decided in the 5.40839 seconds that followed that what I really needed to do was to write about all the ways in which 2016 dabbled in the brilliantly weird.
My year began, though this is not the story that came to mind, at a Motley Crue show. Their “last.” I believe they ended right at or very nearly at midnight, so I began the year covered in a shit ton of red, white and black confetti. It was fun. I had assumed that it would take until, roughly, dawn to get back to Huntington from downtown LA, and I was more than a bit surprised to find myself alone on the 405.
The entire way.
I slept for a spell and then my year really started: on my pier, coffee in hand, watching the surfers take on early morning flat waters.
With a pelican.
So, 2016 started with a fair amount of absurd, probably the most stunning of which was the 405.
But nothing about January 1 indicated–though the close proximity of the bird and the 35 minute drive from LA to Huntington Beach should have been clues–suggested the absurdity of what I would find myself doing a few weeks later, when I was in far different weather, far from CA, and in a city with no open coffee shops.
It was hell. Or DC, whichever you prefer.
Some of you may recall the Snowmaggendon of 2016 shutting Washington DC down for several days. I certainly do, since I was stuck there until the airports reopened. I think that amounted to an additional 3 days, but I can’t remember at the moment. In any event, it was actually at least a month.
Because, no coffee. Well, that’s not strictly true, the baristas in my hotel couldn’t leave any more than the rest of us, so the hotel put them up for the nights and they kept us in coffee so long as they could. I thanked them profusely every time they forked over a cup.
Now, me in blizzard conditions–or snow of any sort, for that matter–is absurd. I’ll go to great lengths to avoid it. Like moving to coastal CA. Worked like a charm. But, blizzard conditions and snow it was last January. The snow began shortly after we arrived–I believe on Wednesday–I got to watch the blizzard conditions out my hotel window, but I quickly started to go stir crazy and went for a walk.
I had no idea what this “whiteout condition” thing of which some of you people speak was, but I do now. I find the choice to live somewhere that does that to be suspect. Those who live out there likely find my choice to go for a walk in blizzard conditions to be even more suspect. And you would be right. Can we all just be thankful for a moment that I had appropriate (mostly) outerwear with me?
And this, my friends, is not the absurd part.
No, the absurd part came one fine morning after the worst of the weather was gone but before the snow started to melt. Everything was still quite closed (including Arlington National Cemetery, as I would find out when a nice soldier informed me at the top of her lungs). It was a lovely day with a bright blue sky, and I had nothing to do. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to run the 13 miles I’d scheduled for that day, since I didn’t trust myself to stay upright on the snow-ice-stuff while running.
Instead, I went for what would turn out to be a 14 mile walk. In the snow. I was, for some reason, hell-bent on getting my 13 miles that day. Only, while I know DC fairly well and can navigate on foot, there were two pressing problems. One, the snow obscured enough stuff to make navigation a tad less simple. And, two, the snow was pretty freaking deep.
It started very well. That would be my knee below the snow line, if anyone is wondering. This is pretty indicative of the whole 5 or so hours I spent trekking through the snow in denim and leather boots. I fell several times and had to backtrack or outright change my intended route because of snow making places impassable. Or, you know, not–and plowing right on through the snow that was up to my hips. Because, why the hell not.
At no point in this adventure that wrapped around the White House (twice), the Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and King monuments, hopped down to the nearly hidden Vietnam Memorial Wall, wandered out to Arlington and back (rather more quickly), and walked up to the Capitol Building, did it occur to me that I didn’t really have to do this. On the one hand, it was fun–I never get to do anything of this sort. On the other, it was miserable. I was cold, wet, covered in ice and snow, and, well, cold.
You know, when I started thinking this through, I was thinking about it as an absurdity that 2016 thrust upon me. But, in writing this out, it’s an absurdity I thrust myself into that happened to be in the year we should consider never speaking of again. And, indeed, every other example probably fits that description.
I’m beginning to suspect that wandering with the absurd was a coping mechanism.