Reflections From a Road-Trip Gone Wrong


On August 3rd I packed up my car with everything I thought I was going to need and some things that I was not going to need for a roadtrip to Florida. I said goodbye to our families and took off on what we expected to be the highlight of our summer, the perfect beginning to Senior year, an unforgettable experience. As the ten days come to a close, the trip definitely surpassed all of my expectations, but not in the way that I had planned.

I am a planner. I plan everything down to a tee. I made an itinerary, a contact sheet, shopping lists, budgets, and other various lists that probably had no convenience whatsoever. I downloaded every single roadtrip related app that was under five dollars from iTunes. About five hours into the trip a situation occurred and I realized I needed to try to let go and let God.

Prior to coming on the road-trip my anxiety had reached a peak and I almost canceled the trip because of all the concerns swirling around in my head: my dad’s going to the hospital, my grandfather’s sick again, I have not been home, I have things to finish before Senior year, my training is going to be interrupted again. About twenty minutes outside of Newark, Delaware as I was finally relaxing and drifting in and out of consciousness as my friend drove, we hit a cone. The cone was not ones average tiny play-cone that was used during elementary school field day events. It was a massive, cylinder construction cone with a light on top and glowing white stripes circling around its body. In the battle of Acura versus cone the cone one and my sideview mirror took the damage. I tried to relax, but I was shaking and slowly losing control. Once we reached an actual house, I found the nearest room and broke down. After I regained control over my body and emotions to an extent I began to plan and make options.

Mental Plan of Action → pray → breathe → advice (three sources) → communicate → pray

Options: panic yell run away abandon ship modify trip relax explore discover

After going through the steps of my plan of action and deciding which of my options were sane and plausible I devised a new plan for the trip. We were staying in Aunt Nik’s Annapolis house- which gave us easy access to both the Bay and the downtown harbour area- giving us hundreds of things to do and discover. Since we were expected to be gone for a total of ten days, when we felt as though we were satisfied with Annapolis we would move down to Aunt Nik’s house in Rockville and spend our remaining days wandering the streets of the nation’s great capital- Washington D.C. Even though I had just finished living there for three weeks the city drew me in in a way that I had not experienced with any place close enough for me to keep going back to over and over again.

My travel partner was less than enthused with the new plan, but she felt as though she did not have much of a choice. My spirits faltered as I wanted her to be as excited as I was once again becoming, but ultimately that did not happen. As the next two days wore on while I expected things to get better they only continued deteriorating- God had more in store for me.

Monday Night: I was going to lose my travel companion on Friday.

Tuesday Afternoon: I was going to lose my travel companion on Thursday morning.

Tuesday Around Midnight: I was losing my travel companion in less than nine hours.

Another mini-meltdown followed each of these travel updates I received which each getting more dramatic and less attractive. I created another, similar plan of action and waited for God to tell me how to proceed next. He quickly came through for me as I knew he would and planted an idea in my head: have Zack come down and spend the week with me. Once I determined that this was the step God was calling me to take and He did not want me to abandon all hope and jump ship, I began to plan and make the necessary arrangements for his arrival.

At this point I could continue on and give you a play-by-play of what happened once Zack arrived and how everything was rainbows and unicorns, but that takes away from the overall meaning of this post and the meaning of my trip. The point was that I went into the situation having all of these expectations and a plan regarding how things were going to go down to almost the hour. God had a different plan for me and I got to see the way he wanted me to work through the situation and I ended up having a much more enjoyable and less stressful trip that could most definitely be considered a success.

July 17th, 2015: George Washington Summer Immersion

July 17th, 2015

This morning was our last breakfast together. Kyle and I were walking down together and Andrew ran to catch up to us. It was strange to think that in less than four hours we would all be on our ways back to wherever we came from and we probably would not all be in the same place ever again. After the Robotics people left for class I went to Andrew’s room until it was time for Carmen and I to walk over to Ames Hall for the last time.

When we got to class we started by reading and then writing our own “I remember…” pieces. After each person read their piece we all had three minutes to present one of our pieces to the class and get feedback. I read my piece that I wrote while on U-Street at Busboys and Poets. When we all finished Mel started to cry and we went to put together a booklet of writings that we all wrote. The next fifteen minutes were a blur of hugs and tears as we all said good-bye and exchanged contact information if we had not already done so.

All too soon it was time to head back to the dorm and say our final good-byes to Cole Hall. I first had to say good-bye to Matthew. Then Kyle and Andrew, but I knew that I would see the two of them the next morning when we went out to breakfast. Essi came over to say good-bye and even though I would see her in less than twenty-four hours, when I pulled away from her she had tears streaked down her face. Ana-Maria came up to me and told me that she had a present for me from Bulgaria- it was a little painted magnet. We hugged without letting go because we knew that the chances of us seeing each other again were slim to none. Her and Essi then pulled away. Next I walked James and Alex over to the bus so that they could go down to the Foggy Bottom stop and then part ways. Finally, right before Carmen’s mom showed up, I ran back over to Somers Hall and gave George one last hug. Then Carmen and I waved good-bye to our home of the last two weeks and pulled away in her parents car.

July 16th, 2015: George Washington Summer Immersion

July 16th, 2015

I once again walked down to breakfast with Kyle, but this time it was a little bit different because I had to bring my laptop to work on editing a poem with Essi. Essi and I volunteered to edit together the ranga that we were going to read that night at our closing-night ceremony. It was a challenge to make the writings of fourteen different writers sound cohesive, but we managed to have it finished before the conclusion of breakfast. When we got to class we headed over to the Vex to then go and catch a bus over to the National Cathedral- our final field trip of the two weeks.

When we reached the outside of the cathedral it was so beautiful that we decided to take pictures. I got a picture with all fourteen people in my class, so that I would remember every single one of them. Once we got pictures in every combination of people possible Mel informed us that if we wanted to go inside of the Cathedral we would have to pay six dollars, but if not we could just walk around the outside, go into the garden, and grab a snack at the café. Since at this point in the trip we were all broke from buying too many books, we opted to just wander the garden and cherish our last twenty-four hours together. We designated George our official photographer and made him take a wide variety of pictures of all of the girls. It was an easy morning where we could just reflect on our time and on the friendships that we made throughout the trip. When we were tired of posing for pictures we wandered out of the garden and over to the cute little café. Essi and I ordered Chai lattes, chips with spinach dip, and bruschetta. After we found a table and put our number down we noticed that there was a bunch of children’s board games stacked up to the left of us, so we grabbed Connect 4 and started a game, which I won. Then our delicious food arrived so we indulged in that opposed to waiting back to get back to the Mount Vernon campus to eat. All too soon it was time to leave.

During lunch time I went and hung out with Andrew because the Photojournalism class was also on campus. When lunch finished up and we got back into the classroom we had our last studio time to put any finishing touches on the pieces that we wanted to post to the blog. Around two- fifteen Essi and I gathered everyone back around our table so we could line up and rehearse the poem for that night. After we ran through it two or three times we sat back down at the table and spent the rest of the time editing each others blog posts before our blog went public that night. Before dinner we all just hung around and started to pack up our things taking in the fact that this was our last night together.

Soon it was time to go to our last dinner. After dinner we quickly hurried back to the dorm to get dressed up for our last night ceremony. I borrowed a long, white, maxi skirt from Carmen that was actually long enough to be high-waisted and reach down to my feet. I paired the skirt with a black crop top. When we went down to the room where we were having the ceremony we had time to wander around and look at the various artworks the art class created. Eventually, they let us into the theater area where we had comedy night the previous week. They ushered us to sit with our classes. The ceremony went by quickly as the photojournalism class presented their pictures. When they finished we read our poem as Cole Hall cheered me on from the back row. Next they talked a little bit and read our names so that we could come up and receive our certificates of completion. Finally, it was over and we could all hangout and just have fun on our last night.

On the way back up to the dorm we took pictures all dressed up with the sun setting behind West Hall behind us. Once inside the dorm we took even more photos with the people who missed out previously. Then we all just hung out. Essi, Bri, Ana-Maria, George, and Reinaldo came over and sat with us for a little while until their curfew at ten. Then I spent time hanging out with Kyle then Andrew one-on-one since they were probably two of the people I got the closest to during the duration of the two weeks. After we were all sent to our rooms at eleven we waited until we thought the coast was clear and then began to figure out what to do next.

Everyone wanted to come down to our room, but because we were right across the hall from Lauren I did not want too many people in our room. I texted Brandon and James and let them know that they could come down again since things went pretty well the previous night. When they walked into our room I was dancing around singing Disney songs and attempting to pack. We spent the next couple hours just hanging out, listening music, and talking. Eventually, Brandon fell asleep on our bed and refused to move. He was on Carmen’s side of the bed and she was also asleep so it was not a big deal. I walked over to the soap room to let James out and when I came back Brandon was sprawled out across my bed and I could not move him. I ended up going up to James’ room and we waited for Alex to come back. When Alex got back James went to sleep in Ethan’s room since Ben had already left earlier that day. I slept in James bed and Alex slept in his own bed. I tried to get a couple hours of sleep around three-thirty that morning. 

July 15th, 2015: George Washington Summer Immersion

July 15th, 2015

We had reached the point in the week where we knew it was almost time to go home, but we did not want to think about it yet. I head down to breakfast with Kyle even though every morning it became later and later. That day during class we went to the American Indian Museum. I walked around with George for the majority of the time, just wandering around looking at exhibits. We watched an interesting video that I almost fell asleep during because it was a dark room. After the movie and a couple of exhibits I lost George, but found Essi. We wandered around until we saw George and Reinaldo and made them go down to the gift shop with us. The gift shop was as entertaining as always for Essi and I; however, this time we actually made purchases so they could not kick us out. We bought matching dream catchers and I also bought coffee imported from Ecuador.

Once we finished paying we headed down to the café to buy some much needed coffee. We found some hazelnut, turtle, chocolate latte or something like that. It was delicious. We sat around chatting until it was time for us to meet up and head to lunch. For lunch I had two chicken tacos that were really good, especially compared to the typical cafeteria food. After lunch we left the museum and when we got back to Mount Vernon and finished our fifteen minute break we had a really long studio time to begin to finish up various pieces.

It was a Wednesday which meant we were supposed to have College Success, but Essi and I decided that we were not going to go and we would not let them make us. Originally, her, Andrew, and I were upstairs hiding in the extra room on the third floor, but soon we heard RAs coming around knocking on doors making people go. Essi and I ran for the closet while Andrew cut through the bathroom and came out Kyle’s room claiming to be looking for Chinese food. That got the RAs to leave the third floor; however, Essi and I were so terrified of being caught that we hid in the closet for another hour just talking. Once Andrew came up to inform us that the coast was clear we hung out for a little and then head down to dinner.

After dinner we got ready to go into Georgetown- our field trip for the evening. Out of our entire dorm only Carmen, Andrew, Matthew, Kyle, and myself signed up. We got on the bus and took it down to the Foggy Bottom stop where we then walked the rest of the way. When we got there they told us we had a hour to do whatever we wanted. Since we did not want to spend too much money, we walked along the canal and then turned and walked down to the water with Andrew taking pictures of us the whole way. It was a nice relaxing evening to hang out with friends as our week began to come to a close. On the way back I got caramel gelato from a place by the water and the guys bought ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s because that was our check-in place for the evening. By the time we got back to the dorm it was almost ten o’clock, so we just watched some TV on my laptop and then called it a night.

July 14th, 2014: George Washington Immersion

July 14th, 2015

This morning Kyle and I woke up and walked down to breakfast together again right when it started around half past seven. Each morning it seemed as if the cafeteria area got more and more empty. We got to class and took a bus from the Mount Vernon campus to the Foggy Bottom campus and then took public bus transportation over to Union Station, which was our destination for the day. At Union Station we were given a couple of hours to wander around and write about or take pictures of whatever inspired us. I walked around with George for a while and then we decided to go and get smoothies from Jamba Juice. I purchased a delicious Piña Colada. While there we met up with Essi, Bri, and Carmen. When we left Jamba Juice George went off on his own and the girls and I went down to the bottom floor of Union Station to order crepes. I got a ham, cheese, olive, and tomato crepe that was very good and would be my replacement lunch for the day instead of eating the West Hall Dining food.

When we got back from Union Station, Carmen and I opted out of lunch and went to our room instead to eat left-overs from the other day, watch the Bachelorette, and take naps. In our afternoon class session we spent the majority of the time working on our various projects during studio work time. I finished up some lose ends on various projects and started a project involving my photography and Union Station. After class ended Essi, Carmen, and I headed over to the gym to get in a quick work-out before we headed over to the pool. Carmen and I did a warm-up mile and then a core workout that Reinaldo joined us for and then we finished with a quick cool-down mile. Once we were drenched with sweat we headed back to our dorms to throw on our bathing suits and head to the pool. Essi, Andrew, Matthew, Kyle, and I hung out at the pool for about forty-five minutes before we went back to the dorm to clean-up before dinner. We heard rumors about dinner being completely awful almost to the point of being inedible so Andrew, Kyle, Matthew, and I opted to order Chinese food. It was a worth-while investment.

Our Chinese food arrived just as the Vern Cup was starting. The Vern Cup was basically just trivia. I stayed for the beginning of it, but then I was not feeling great and needed some time away from people screaming, so I wandered down to the soccer fields. I hung out down there and played football with some of the guys until Alex began to organize his football game. Andrew came down to the fields to check on me and he walked me back to the dorm. He headed back to the Vern Cup for a little, but soon came back and we just relaxed and watched the movie Juno because it is one of my favorites, but he had never seen it before. The movie did not end until about ten thirty, but at that point I had about fifteen text messages from Kyle asking me where I was and what I was doing. I went upstairs and we hung out and talked until it was our curfew. Then Carmen and I watched some more of the Bachelorette before turning in for the night.

July 13th, 2015: George Washington Immersion

July 13, 2015

This morning I woke up, got ready, and went down to breakfast with Kyle. There were not many people there because everyone was exhausted, but since the Robotics guys had to leave pretty early in the morning I wanted to go to breakfast with them. After breakfast I headed back to the room, wrote, and relaxed until it was time to head over for another day of class. Today we were traveling to U Street. We boarded the Vex down to the Foggy Bottom stop, walked to the metro, and then took two different metro lines until we reached U Street.

Our first destination was a bookstore/cafe called Busboys and Poets. It was one of the most exciting, yet calming places I had ever been. We wandered around the bookstore called Politics and Prose, then walked back through the cafe past all of the tables with people talking, writing, and drinking coffee. In the back of the cafe was an area that had a stage where they would host various poetry readings and other events. Different artwork covered the walls, leaving something new to look at every time I glanced around. All too soon it was time to leave and head to Ben’s Chili Bowl before the lunch crowds got there.

Ben’s Chili Bowl was a cute little place that you can tell had been on U Street for a long time and was not going anyplace any time soon. I had a delicious salad chili bowl that topped any meal they had served in the dining hall thus far along with a extremely yummy vanilla milkshake. While we indulged in our meal one of the guys who worked at the place came to talk to us about the history of both the establishment and his life. He talked about how Ben’s Chili Bowl was the only restaurant to stay open during the raids following MLK Jr.’s death and how it dealt with the Cocaine riots that occurred. The restaurant was always the one constant in the town and the one place that the people could depend on to stay uncorrupted. The man also told the story of his own life and how no matter he took every experience as it came and he never let anybody else put him down. The whole thing was very inspiring and not at all boring; however, there were other places to see, go, and learn from.

Before we left, Carmen, Essi, Bri, Ana-Maria, and I had an interesting experience in the bathroom. In the bathroom they had chalk and names of different people who had come and eaten at the restaurant. We decided to put our names up, but we wanted them to be someplace that we would remember. In order to do that I climbed on top of the toilet and reached up into the top right hand corner of the stall and wrote “Jenna #onlyatgwsummer 7/13/15”. Once we finally exited the bathroom we walked back to Busboys and Poets. I bought another three books and then we got a table and ordered hot drinks to sip on while we wrote. It was very inspirational and calming. Before we knew it, it was almost two o’clock and we had to go meet back up with Mel and the rest of the group. We took the long metro and bus rides back to the Mount Vernon Campus. When we got back we only had about thirty minutes of class left, so we used it to discuss our Public Figures book and work on other various projects.

We got back to the dorm a couple of minutes after three o’clock and then just hung around for a couple hours until around five. At five o’clock I found Lauren and she told me to get a group of people together to walk down to CVS. I hung out with Andrew on both the way down and the way back. When we got back it was practically time for dinner so we went down to the dining hall where I barely ate anything. After dinner we hung out and watched Sherlock until Alex recruited a bunch of the guys to go and play soccer with him. When the soccer game ended we watched more of Sherlock until it was our curfew. After curfew Carmen and I hung out and watched some more of The Bachelorette until we went to sleep.

Thoughts From a U Street Cafè: George Washington University

Inspired by man at Ben’s Chili Bowl, Busboys and Poets cafe, and Politics and Prose bookstore.
Our experiences make us who we are today- where you go, who you interact with. Every person has their own story that contributes to the person they have become. Even the most miniscule events can have the greatest impact. Ultimately, the little moments in life will be what stays with you and what you remember the most. Those moments when you are on U Street in Washington D.C. sitting in a book-store cafe, sipping a Chai Latte and writing. You did not know the people sitting beside you a week ago, but now you cannot imagine not having them in your life. You sit in a place where inspiration and history surrounds you. The words flow. You feel content. Others rush around you trying to get from one place to another, but you just sit in peace and quiet. You are not alone. People like you fill up the cafe. You form a community of introverts, of artists. To be together, yet alone, is a rare experience that should be held on to and cherished. These are the moments you live for. You observe. You almost feel as though you are outside of what is happening around you. The words you put down on the page are nothing compared to the actual experience, but you try because everyone deserves to feel this bliss. You reach for a bag of books you have purchased and begin to flip through. “This must be what it is like to be a struggling, broke, writer.” As that thought crosses your mind you begin to envision the greats sitting there in their own cafes, just putting pencil to paper. One day you could become one of the greats, but the only way to know for sure is by starting and embracing the places life takes you.