Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Little Trip to D.C.

When my proposal to speak at the National Council of Teachers of English was accepted last August, Beau and I went back and forth about whether he should go along or not. We had barely started this housing adventure and were not sure where we’d be with decisions, let alone where we’d even be living. But when hotels by the National Harbor (where the conference was at) filled up fast and I didn’t really care to stay downtown by myself, I nudged Beau to grab a plane ticket and be my date. The timing wasn’t good, we were just getting over the cold and flu bug, Beau had a hundred health care appointments scheduled in the weeks before and after, and we had a million housing decisions to make when we got home, but we went for it and never looked back. 

The weekend was just what we needed. We’ve been so caught up in the speed of our life right now that it seems whatever is not essential is put to the side to accomplish just what we need to get by. Projects for class, open houses at daycare, flooring for the house, and laundry, diapers, and meals take precedent over the things that are most important; namely, our relationships with the people who matter most. Beau and I have been moving in opposite directions it seems and it felt so nice to meet in D.C. for a few days, together. We laughed at how easy it felt to pack for just the two of us, how nice it felt to be on the other side watching young families make their way through the airport with little ones, and made a vow to drag out our meals as long as possible, eat as much seafood as possible, and converse about adult things instead of superheroes and transformers. I couldn’t wait to revisit a city with so much to see, to introduce my history buff husband to the rich story of D.C., and eat our way through each neighborhood of our nation’s capital.

We got to our hotel in the late afternoon on Thursday and got all dressed up in order to blend in with the young executives on Pennsylvania Ave. We were just blocks from the national mall and made our way to the monuments just as the sun was setting. It was the absolute perfect time to see the mall. We marveled at the size and stature of the Washington Monument, solemnly took in the World War II monument, and ended on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, watching people from all over the world take in this iconic piece of our history. The sun had casted this golden hue on everything, and the sun soaked memorials reflected off one another to create a breathtaking view. We sat on the steps of the memorial for a while and talked about MLK, Abraham Lincoln, and Forrest Gump before making our way to dinner.

We walked arm in arm down Constitution Ave., stopping to take in the massive buildings all lit up for Christmas and passing several secret service agents along the way. It wasn’t until we crossed the corner by the Eisenhower Building that we came upon the White House itself. Pennsylvania Ave. was blocked off in front of it, and there were several news reporters and other very important people showing their security access tags before a gate opened and allowed them in. We finally realized that we were standing there an hour before the President’s controversial and highly-covered immigration reform policy was announced. It was pretty exciting to be so up close and personal to the center stage of it all. 

We ended Thursday night dining amongst the big wigs at the Old Ebbitt grill just blocks from Capitol Hill. Happy hour was just coming to an end and it was obvious we were surrounded by lawyers, politicians, and up and coming executive interns who had gathered to hash out the day’s hot button issues over martinis, white wine, and whiskey on the rocks. We tried to fit in, but our pork belly taco order instead of Oysters Rockefeller probably said otherwise. We dined over gin and tonics, hot bowls of clam chowder, parmesan crusted trout, and osso bucco before making our way back to our hotel. 

Friday was my conference day, but we celebrated a successful presentation elbow deep in snow crab in Georgetown on Friday night. After a welcoming 50-degree day the day before, the temperatures Friday night felt much more like home. The cabbie dropped us off at this seemingly little dive and we made ourselves at home for much of the night, hosting competitions as to who could get the biggest piece of crab out without breaking it, making fun of how ridiculous the other looked in their plastic bib, and watching Lebron take on the Wizards at the Verizon Center, just a block from our hotel. 

We spent our last afternoon in D.C. as tourists, exploring Arlington National Cemetery and spending most of the afternoon perusing the Smithsonian Institute. I donned over the first lady exhibit, could have stayed in the Julia Child exhibit all day, and made sure to get a peek at Harry Winston’s Hope Diamond at the Museum of Natural History. My favorite part of the day, though, was when our cabbie dropped us off for lunch in front of twenty food carts right outside the Washington Monument. We each ordered something we had never heard of, sat on a park bench next to a family of hungry pigeons, and listened to a young man play amazing percussion on a set up of five-gallon buckets. It was exactly the kind of big city appeal I crave every now – exciting, high energy, and spontaneous. 

After getting all kinds of smart at the Smithsonian, Beau discovered a brewery in the same block that I discovered an Anthropologie, so we went our separate ways for an hour and met back at Gordon Biersch for dinner and drinks. We shared garlic fries and lobster rolls, IPAs and sangria before retiring to our hotel for an early night. 

It was a lovely little weekend away, but boy did I miss the babes! Looking forward to shifting gears now and preparing for the holidays at Mom and Dad’s, as well as one little lady getting awfully close to one.

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