This is my last post for a while, dear readers, as the much-needed holiday va-k season officially begins.
After hosting a holiday cookie exchange with fab friends on Sunday, at the crack of dawn Monday morning, my husband and I are driving to DC (where we met and where I moved here from) and Annapolis (where we got married) to see friends and family over the Christmas holiday.
We won’t be back until late Sunday night, so I probably won’t blog again until Tuesday or so.
This means several things:
1) I will be away from my house. (my usual food/morning get-ready routine)
2) Away from the gym. (my usual exercise routine)
3) Away from my computer. (my technology addiction)
Could be scary, but I’m not afraid. After all this time, I know some certainties about myself.
I will bring my usual stash of apples and FiberOne bars, and my sneakers always travel with me (whether I use them or not is to be determined).
I’m really going to just focus on enjoying the experience of going back “home”. Hell, I even worked my WW week so that I am back to Friday-Friday weeks, meaning I’ll be able to split up the vacation a little (having had such a light weekend this past weekend helped, even with my Chex binge for dinner Monday night).
This will be the first time my husband and I are back on our old “stomping grounds” without a wedding or some other event to attend, which means we’ll have time to sight-see (something I took for granted living and working in DC for all those years).
I have memories in so many places in that city because in many ways, my adult life began there. I came to DC the summer of 1997 an eager, wide-eyed teenager from the boonies (anyone who knows Vernon, NJ will agreE) and left it the fall of 2006 a pulled-together, engaged woman who was now a homeowner with a blossoming career.
Today reflecting on it, I realized just how much happened in that city those 9 years.
Listening to then-President Clinton address our university (American) my very first week of college in Bender Auditorium (where I’d later receive my degrees). Going to Taste of DC and the cherry blossom festival on the Mall with friends. 4th of July on the mall before we all went abroad. Maggiano’s Family Style lunches with the gang … (and the chorus of, “Oh I’m soooo stuffed … who’s taking that lasagna home?!”)
A class trip to a Smithsonian, or an internship at an amazing NGO or on the Hill? That stuff was par for the course.
There’s the dorm where my best friend and I met in the bathroom … and the classrooms and lounges where I met people who would change my life …
Where one door closed (a painful breakup freshman year), and another opened (meeting my now-husband senior year) when I returned from my semester in Argentina.
And how lucky was I that I used to have lunch in the park by the White House with one friend, and in front of the Willard Hotel with another. I’d take long walks to Union Station from my office at Farragut West … an hour-long stroll past the Capitol, breezing by it, awed by it but not impressed the way perhaps a tourist would be. After all, it was “my city.” I never thought twice about it … until I left.
My bachelorette party was held in Georgetown, and the Georgetown Mall is where I found out who my “Big” was in my sorority at Revelation. There’s Great Falls, where I’ve hiked with friends and, later, my husband. There’s Xando (now Cosi) where my college girls and I would sit after our sorority’s chapter meeting every Sunday night.
There’s the Pentagon — I rode the bus past it on my way home every day when I lived in Arlington, which for months and months had a huge gaping hole after September 11.
There’s the Air & Space Museum my dad loves to visit and the Museum of American History that my high school friends love to hit up when they’d come down. The Newseum I adore (which has just reopened). And the Holocaust Museum I still haven’t been able to get tickets for (just been to Jacob’s Room).
There’s the places I’ve either interned or worked … US News & World Report, National Geographic, the National Education Association, NGSA (a lobbying firm in the energy industry), the Peace Corps. All amazing institutions that carved my career path and made me who I am today.
The Metro I rode every day (I always loved the Red Line best, even with its penchant for delays), the Washington Post or Express tucked under my arm (Man, I miss those Express crosswords!).
The apartments I’ve lived in: DC, Arlington and Silver Spring. The Caribou Coffee at MetroCenter where one of my best friends and I would meet a couple times a week. National and Dulles Airports, where my husband and I said more goodbyes than any couple should ever need to do …
And then the food. So many of my memories are related to places I’ve dined at with friends or loved ones. There’s Thomas Sweets for fro-yo and Old Glory for BBQ. Zaytinya for Mediterranean tapas. Coppi’s Organic for amazing Italian. Cactus Cantina, where Jason and our college group spent many a night. Bread & Chocolate where, as a “lady” I used to do brunch with my friends. And all the new places that have sprung up that I don’t even know about yet.
(And these are only some of my D.C. memories. My Annapolis memories would take up another post!)
Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
I’ve always loved this quote, and I hope, more than anything, to have new eyes this visit. I’m a little older now and hopefully a little wiser. I hope I can appreciate what I’ve left behind, but also what’s in front of me … and perhaps most importantly, where I am in this very moment — on a recovery journey I could have never envisioned but am so glad to be on.
I have to admit, it’s going to be a bit weird to go back — bittersweet perhaps? Plus, I can’t remember the last time I took a full week-long vacation. Probably our wedding/honeymoon? That was over two years ago, and we didn’t even make it to DC then (just Annapolis for our wedding).
That said, I hope to embrace the time away and come back in full force after the little break, having spent time with friends and family in places near and dear to us. It’ll be nice to get away from snowy Michigan, from work, from the day-to-day grind.
And even though I’m Jewish, I love decorations, Christmas music, Silk Soy Nog (which I blogged about here), and chocolate-peppermint everything. Yea, I love everything about this time of year. Especially the holiday cups at Starbucks!
Wishing you and yours a very wonderful holiday — Happy Hanukkah/Merry Christmas, peace, joy and love. Cheers to 2009 as a fresh start and a fresh journey … with new, brighter eyes.