If you love home

DC in September
11 September: WWII Memorial with the Lincoln Memorial in the background.

If you love home—and even if you don’t—there is nothing quite as cozy, as comfortable, as delightful, as that first week back. That week, even the things that would irritate you—the alarm waahing from some car at three in the morning; the pigeons who come to clutter and cluck on the windowsill behind your bed when you’re trying to sleep in—seem instead reminders of your own permanence, of how life, your life, will always graciously allow you to step back inside of it, no matter how far you have gone away from it or how long you have left it. — A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara

We spent a delightful weekend in DC with Kelsey and Alex, who are splendid hosts. We saw lots of old friends and spent time with new ones, and we didn’t want to leave their pristine urban paradise. But we have a Kelsey-and-Alex-filled fall, so that assuages us.

DC in September
Going out.

After leaving DC, I grew pensive and even a bit sad as I thought about my professional life. Alex just started a graduate program at Georgetown; Cristina is about to become a lawyer; Russ is starting a graduate program in California; Kelsey is seriously considering an MBA from New York University. And me? What am I doing? Reading lots of books and still schlepping around in the same job I’ve had for five years. I enjoy my work, and I am really grateful for my job, which provides me with a genuinely superb work/life balance. I am extremely happy on a day-to-day basis. But I would love nothing more than to go back to school. My graduate-degree ambitions are hindered by three major factors: (1) lack of sensible degree (I really just want a PhD in English, as deeply, heartbreakingly foolish as that is); (2) lack of money; and (3) lack of desire to move to another city. I feel stuck. I don’t have any answers, but I felt like confessing that to the void. I feel that I am getting old, and I don’t want my career to atrophy.

Smell the zinniasIn brighter news, I am finally reading John Cheever for the first time, and I am IN LOVE. The Chekhov of the American suburbs!

What’s new in your life?

Visiting the District of Columbia

At the beginning of this week, I took a mini-vacation to D.C. to stay with Kelsey and Alex, visit with Mom, and see Grace off for her summer in India and Nepal.

Alex and Kelsey’s apartment is this peaceful, minimalistic oasis in the middle of the city. I was delighted to finally be able to see it!

Kelsey and Alex's apartment

Kelsey and Alex's apartment

Alex at home

I had most of Monday to myself, so I walked to the National Mall,

Capitol building

and spent the majority of my afternoon in the National Gallery (west building). Delighted to see so many paintings I had only seen before in books.

National Gallery

National Gallery

I particularly enjoyed: the exhibit on Rodin’s sculptures, the pre-Raphaelite exhibit, Van Gogh, and noting how very famous paintings are often nonchalantly placed in a strange corner of the room.

National Gallery

National Gallery

On Tuesday, Mom and I got to spend the morning at the U.S. Botanic Gardens, which was delightful, as I now share her great love of plants.

Visit with Mom to the Botanic Gardens

Visit with Mom to the Botanical Gardens

We killed time here while Grace fearlessly navigated the Metro to Georgetown to apply for her visa, and then we met up again and had the famously delicious lunch at the Native American museum.

More thoughts/highlights:

  • The quiet car on the train! The best invention. Also, the ride from here to D.C. is really beautiful. I caught up on my New Yorkers and finished The Gospel According to Woman (Karen Armstrong).
  • Dinner with Eric, Cristina, Emily, and Brian on the night I got in. So fun and lively!
  • Dinner with Patrick, shortly after Mom and Grace arrived. Just adding to the list of family time, and surreptitiously celebrating his birthday.
  • I don’t think I could make it in D.C., but I’m glad that Kelsey and Alex aren’t very far away, and I love their sweet, streamlined lifestyle there. Visiting their apartment felt a bit like visiting an upscale resort (the rooftop pool! You cannot even imagine this pool/deck area). Love those two so very much; they are perfect hosts.

And now I am looking forward to seeing (almost) everyone again in June, for the family excursion to Hatteras! It cannot come too quickly.

Weekend ready and dads

I’m taking the train to D.C. this weekend to stay with Angela before she jets off for NYC. I’m oh-so-very excited! The last time I went to D.C., I was a freshman in high school and I had an absolutely miserable time. I have no doubt that this visit will erase any lingering bad memories of the Capitol. I’m going to be with Angela, after all! It will be magical. I may also get to see the long-missed Eric and Cristina, which I am also really looking forward to.

God tempted my willpower this week when I saw that a purebred Australian shepherd had come into the Charlottesville SPCA. And he was a beautiful blue merle, too. However, like most pretty dogs who come into the shelter, he was adopted within a few days. He is probably enjoying a happy life with his new family right now. See how I am trying to console myself…

Happy early Father’s Day to Dad and Mike! You’re great and mean so much to me and to Guion. Thanks for supporting, teasing, and loving us.

Talk to you on Monday.