This funny story about my mother happened in the first year of my adult life outside of college when I was twenty-three years old. I’d just moved to Washington, D.C. from my mother’s apartment on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, a few weeks after the summer had ended. I lived in a very tiny studio that was 300 sq feet total. You could see everything in the studio, the kitchen, the tiny corner that was going to be my designated ‘bedroom’ space, and the living room with the IKEA Ektorp sofa that was my temporary bed, and the bathroom.
I loved that tiny studio apartment. It had brick walls that were painted over, and there was an original fireplace that was still working. The kitchen hadn’t been renovated yet, so it was original 70s’ wood paneling with a wicker lampshade in the shape of a giant flower that hung over the eating nook in the kitchen. It was my first place, and I felt at home in it. It was near the intersection of Kalorama Road and 20th, in the heart of Adams Morgan. I was close to the hustle and the bustle of Dupont Circle, and could hop on the Metro and be at work in the Capitol within forty minutes.
My mother decided to come down to stay one weekend to help me order a bed so I could sleep in an actual bed instead of the Ektorp sofa. She took the Amtrak train, all the way from Grand Central in New York City, to Union Station in D.C. I picked her up at Union Station, and she wanted to see what the Metro was like, so I took her on the subway, and we exited Adams Morgan, trudging all the way up the escalator.
“Mijita! You will get very good exercise on this escalator every day if you walk up!” She pointed out, as we finally reached the top, seeing all the stores and restaurants in Adams Morgan. It was only a mile across the bridge to my place, so I pulled my mother’s suitcase, and it was rather heavy.
“What’s in this suitcase?” I asked Mom in puzzlement as I grunted and groaned in pulling the suitcase, hearing my mother clip-clop away next to me in her heels.
“I brought an aerobed so we can sleep on it tonight while we get your new bed, mijita!” Mom looked over at me and grinned.
Oh, now that explained it.
“I’m hungry, mijita. Can we eat at that place?” Mom pointed at the Afghan restaurant. I looked over, and said yes.
We seated ourselves at the restaurant, and one of the most handsome waiters I’d ever seen came to our table. I was flabbergasted. He looked exactly like Aladdin from the Disney movie.
“He looks like Aladdin!” Mom winked, as if she was reading my exact thoughts at that moment. I blushed, and pretended that I hadn’t heard that. I changed the subject back to my work, and to the latest scandal coming out of the Bush administration.
After dinner, it was so incredibly windy when we left the restaurant. The wind blew ferociously across the bridge. Mom looked at me, then at the suitcases, and back at the bridge.
“Can’t we get a cab?” She asked, holding onto her hat. I looked at her in astonishment.
“It’s only like a mile, Mom! We can make it. Really.” I said, waving my arms in exasperation. Mom’s only answer was to hail a cab, and it stopped for the two of us. In resignation, I put the suitcases in the trunk, and told the cab driver to go just across the bridge and drop us off at Kalorama. I caught the cab driver’s puzzled expression in the rearview mirror, and he then shrugged. The engine turned back on, and off we went across the bridge that my mother was so afraid to cross because of the winds. As directed, he stopped right at Kalorama Road, and dropped us off.
We walked down further onto our street. What struck us was how dark the street was. None of the streetlights were on. We moved down the street cautiously, and looked up at the windows on the apartment buildings flanking us, and there were candles in each window. Hmm. That was odd.
I opened the door at my apartment building, and saw the red glow inside. The red glow came from the exit sign. None of the lights were on. I looked at my mom, and she looked back at me, and whispered, “Maybe you should ask your neighbor what happened.”
I sighed, and knocked on the first door to my right. The woman that opened the door was one of the tenants that I’d seen occasionally, and she looked at both my mother and I, both in our heavy jackets and with suitcases in our hands.
“What happened?” I asked.
“The power went out.”
OH! It both dawned on my mother and me why the street had looked so dark, and why there were candles in the windows.
“Mijita, do you have a candle?” Mom asked, and the neighbor paused. She was about to close the door, and looked at me.
“No, I do not have a candle.” I said, rather sheepishly.
“Mijita! You should always have a candle in case for emergencies!” Mom scolded me, wagging her finger.
“I might have an extra candle I can give you guys, and some matches as well.” The neighbor intervened, showing us an extra candle with a matchbox. I took it from her, and thanked her profusely.
Then I lugged the suitcases up the steps, with my mother following closely behind me, and we were on the second floor. I smiled, as I opened the door, and lit the candle on the kitchen counter. Mom moved in, pulling the suitcases in and opening them on the floor.
She pulled the aerobed out, and was about to plug it in when she remembered.
“Oh, mijita!” Mom said sadly, gesturing at the aerobed and the outlet. “We have no power.” I realized that the aerobed was one of those things that you plug into the wall, and it blows up into a bed.
I laughed so hard that I cried. My mother looked at me laughing, and joined in with me. We were laughing so hard that we cried.
I sobbed out between fits of laughter, “You brought THAT all the way from New York and---,“ I threw my head back, and tried to breathe in air. “---we can’t even use it to sleep in tonight!”
“Maybe if we roll it out, we can sleep on top of it.” Mom started pushing out the aerobed, laying it flat on the floor.
“Are you kidding? There’s silverfish all over the place! I’ve seen them on the floor.” The major drawback to my lovely tiny studio apartment was the silverfish, a bug species that I’d never seen before until the move to DC. Mom shuddered.
“Would the IKEA sofa fit the two of us?” Mom asked.
“We can try, Mom.” I pulled out the sofa cushions, and I first laid down on the IKEA Ektorp sofa, pushing myself up against the back. Mom laid down on the other end, her feet facing my face, also squeezing herself tight in.
“Looks like we both can fit in here. We can try to sleep on this sofa, but it won’t be easy. We can do it though.” I said, pulling the blanket over us.
Mom laughed again, shaking her head. “This is not what I was planning when I was visiting you, mijita!”
“Mom, something ALWAYS happens when you visit me. It never goes smoothly, Mom, but that’s an adventure.” I grinned.
That night spent on the IKEA Ektorp sofa was uncomfortable, but warm since both my mother and I were pressed up against each other like sardines in a can.
I’ll never forget that night. It was so funny. We had a grand adventure, camping out on the IKEA Ektorp sofa which turned out to be surprisingly big, and capable of fitting the two of us side-by-side that windry night.
I love my mom because we always have adventures together because something always happens. It’s never boring being with my mom. Every moment with her is a memory to remember and to be treasured.