Happiness is not a destination, it’s a journey.
I read this on my BFF Portia’s refrigerator magnet last weekend while visiting her in D.C. It made me pause for a moment as I reflected on the truth of such a simple statement. I’d just had the most amazing day in D.C.; a trip that I took on a whim. I decided to go to D.C. Friday mid-morning and I arrived in D.C. at Union Station Saturday early morning. We had all sorts of plans. First on the agenda was a tour of the city from the luxury of P’s car. Then shopping at three different locales (consignment, outlet and the good ole regular mall), our favorite past-time. And finally, we planned to cap the night off with dinner and drinks at some swanky D.C. hotspot.
In reality? Well, it had been almost a year since we’d spent any quality time together in person. 2009 was a whirlwind for each of us – my wedding and her appointment by President Obama (I know, pretty cool, right?!?!?!) meant that neither of us had much free time last year. So, while there was so much we wanted to do, we did what we needed to do. We lazed around the house, watched Kimora Lee Simmons, our favorite reality tv star whose Fabulosity kept us in stitches, and caught up. We did finally leave the house and got our shop on, so much so that the last store we were in turned the lights out while we were paying for our purchases (we made it to 2 of our 3 destinations). Night out on the town? Yeah, right. We’d tired ourselves out and needed our second wind for the next morning.
Originally, Sunday am was going to consist of lazing around like we used to in our dorm room, brunch with Bloody Marys and more catching up. But, that plan changed at about 7:30 pm Saturday night when one of P’s friends sent a text to see if she was free to go to brunch at The Supreme Court (Yes, that Supreme Court) being hosted by Justice Sotomayor. Unbelieveable, right? I used to believe that this kind of stuff only happens in movies until it happened to me. Portia graciously thanked her friend Mike for the invite, but turned it down explaining that I was in town so she wouldn’t be able to attend (a good friend, right?). Undeterred, Mike responded back with a simple question, “what’s her last name?”
Now mind you, I’d packed for shopping, drinks & dinner and then brunch. I’m usually packed for just about any eventuality that I can possibly perceive (rain, cold, club vs lounge), but meeting one of the Supremes was not on my packing checklist. When P got Mike’s text with that simple question, she turned to me and said, “Girl, you’d better buy a dress you can wear to The Supreme Court tomorrow just in case. Mike rarely asks for info unless it’s going to be put to good use. I think were going to The Supreme Court tomorrow.”
So, I bought a dress as the store manager was turning the lights out. We left the outlet mall dog tired, but high on sugar from our stop at the dollar store. We stopped for a quick bite to eat and then headed home to pass out. Visions of the Supremes all but forgotton and replaced with visions of a heavenly bed.
We got home and there was a message from Mike, “You’re both on the list. Starts at 11:30, ends at 2. C u there.” Then the panic ensued. OMG! We had to get up and get moving in the am. Brunch at 11:30 am at The Supreme Court meant we had to be ready to walk out the door no later than 11 am. And did I mention, Justice Sotomayor was hosting? We got there at 11:30 on the nose. Made it through security, got our names checked off on the list, signed the photo waiver and were taken to the second floor. We passed the “courtroom” where the Supremes sit and cases like Brown vs. Board and Marbury vs. Madison had been argued. I was in complete awe from the moment the cab dropped us in front of The Supreme Court.
Although I’m no longer a practicing lawyer, I’m still a lawyer. My husband is a lawyer, my BFFs are lawyers and many of my friends are lawyers whether practicing or not. Like all lawyers, I spent three years in law school reading cases written by the esteemed Justices of The Supreme Court (I affectionately call them The Supremes). Believe it or not, walking in the hallowed halls of the building and see the courtroom where those cases were decided was absolutely AWESOME! I was high on a cocktail of excitement and adrenaline.
We were ushered into a private reception room off to the side of the courtroom and there she was, Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The first woman of color to sit on The Bench. Amazing. Even more amazing was that the reception room was filled with faces that looked just like mine. Now, remember, we’d received a text message the night before with an invitation to a brunch but with no information about the brunch. I leaned around one of the servers passing hor d’oeuvres to ask another guest what the occasion was and learned that it was the culmination of The Kennedy Center’s Joyful Sounds: Gospel Across America week. Most of the attendees had been at the Kennedy Center the night before for some sort of gala event. As we chatted with more folks, we learned that P’s friend Mike had been the keynote speaker. Did I mention that Mike is all of 27?
Mike arrived; I gave him a huge hug and thanked him for working his juice to include me in such an auspicious event. And believe it or not, as we stood there talking to Mike, Justice Sotomayor made her way over to us! I kid you not; she and Mike had bonded the night before as fellow Bronx natives and Yankee fans. She was chic in camel slacks, a red silk blouse and a red cashmere wrap flung elegantly around her shoulder just so. In a room filled with pictures of austere white men, here was a woman I could relate to being funny and gracious and talking to me and my friends. A sitting Justice of the Supreme Court that I could relate to! Talking to me, us. WOW. Wow. She was cool. No pretense, no old lady mannerisms, just cool. Welcoming and interesting and cool. The memory of the experience is indelibly imprinted on my psyche.
Going to The Supreme Court for brunch is an experience that will forever be a part of my happiness journey. What took meeting Justice Sotomayor from great to awesome was that it was so unexpected. As I reflect back on last Sunday, I keep hearing Jill Scott singing “Livin’ my life like it’s golden, it really matters to me.” Life is Golden. Sometimes it may take someone else or something a little out of the ordinary to help us see how golden our “mundane” is, but my point here is that life’s ordinary moments really are golden. Going to The Supreme Court for brunch was extraordinary. But, while it seems like hanging out with my BFF was ordinary, that was really my golden moment. Meeting Justice Sotomayor was just the cherry on the top. Spending quality time with a friend, playing with your kids in the yard, visiting your parents, etc. those truly are the golden moments in life.
So, as Jill says, “I’ll be high steppin’ y’all, lettin’ the joy unfold …”