these are a few of my favorite (dc) things

I like raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens as much as the next child of the 1980s, having spent every Christmas holiday re-watching Julie Andrews bring joy and music to the Austrian Alps. I never planned my viewing in advance; somehow, year after year, I turned on the TV just as it started. As they say, timing in life is everything.

I longed to be a von Trapp child, to sing my heart out as I walked the beautiful hills with the sun on my face and a dress made from curtains on my back. That’s where the similarities would have ended, though; nice as they are, raindrops and whiskers will never fall into my “favorite things” category.

My friend, Constance, re-introduced me to the concept a few years ago. I came back from vacation and she asked me to play the vacation game with her: I had to name my favorite sound, smell, taste, touch and color from my get away. I was hooked, and found that each time I traveled after that, having the game in the back of my mind helped me to look harder and notice better in a way that enhanced the experience considerably.

As I sit with bags packed beside me reflecting on five – FIVE! – years in Washington DC, I find myself playing the game again to help fix in my brain the truly wonderful, exciting, sometimes difficult life I built here. I arrived on a Saturday afternoon at the end of September 2015, checked into “The Compound” as we would come to call Constance’s house on P St, and set about building a nonprofit from scratch. They say charity begins at home; mine started in the office but brought home to me a new way of seeing myself and the world that has been truly life changing. I got good by doing good.

So, here are a few of my favorite things (about DC and my life here):

Sounds:

  • The bull frog in the tree in the garden at P St that kept me awake, but whose presence made me strangely happy as if he were standing watch over me as I slept (or would have done if he’d been quiet)
  • The Super Soul Conversation podcast which brought me comfort and enlightenment on my darkest days
  • The sound of my sister’s voice as we had an impactful conversation walking the streets of DC

Sights:

  • Paul’s face in the morning on the pillow next to mine
  • The sparkling and twinkling of the river in the sun, as if diamonds were dancing on its surface
  • The persistently strange sight of someone wearing a face mask in this new pandemic reality

Colors:

  • The blue of the big wide sky of DC
  • The aqua marine of my big sparkling engagement ring
  • The grey of my husband’s eyes

Touches:

  • The sun on my face as I sit in the garden of P St on a gloriously hot August day
  • Paul’s hand as it locks into mine
  • The feel of freshly washed sheets on my skin after Paul has washed them (he always insists)

Smells:

  • The dark wood of Martin’s bar
  • Grown Alchemist body wash in our beautiful honeymoon hotel in New Orleans
  • Paul cooking dinner in the kitchen as I sit on our sofa drinking a G&T and we catch up on our day and plan the next adventure

Tastes:

  • That first mimosa of the night (or morning, or afternoon)
  • The burger at Le Diplomat – hold the salt on the fries
  • The meals I found in my fridge when I returned from travels, lovingly left by Constance so I would feel loved and welcomed home

Places:

  • The bright, sunny nook at the Clubhouse
  • The garden on P St
  • The middle of the Mall – the Capitol on one side, the Washington Monument on the other – I never tire of that view

Experiences:

  • Learning to meditate and calm my busy brain
  • Taking a memoir writing course – and realizing I was good at it
  • Learning to speak American

People:

  • My husband, the love of my life
  • My Compound Crew: Katie and Constance
  • Friends, too many to mention them all, but you know who you are

Achievements:

  • Building an organization
  • Learning to say no
  • Finding balance for the first time in my life

US destinations:

  • Portland, OR – East London on the West Coast
  • LA – much better than I was expecting
  • Miami South Beach – Art Deco heaven

Books read:

  • The Century Trilogy by Ken Follett, read in bed over Christmas 2015/new year 2016, the story of the American century as I settled into my new American home
  • What I Know for Sure, Oprah Winfrey – she set me on the straight and narrow when I needed it
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read and a different take on “captivity” from my day job

Music:

  • Jake Bugg acoustic set in Nashville on my 41st birthday – that guy brought be back to life after a difficult year
  • Christine and the Queens with Kelly at the 9.30 Club – sheer wonder and delight in a 5-foot creativity pocket rocket
  • Impromptu blue grass gig with Constance at her neighbor’s place in VA – she pulled me away from the TV, I danced in my PJs

Occasions:

  • My wedding
  • My 40th birthday weekend
  • Leaning in on my first date with Paul

Wow moment:

  • Being the Saturday Profile in the New York Times

And that, as they say, is a wrap. Thanks, DC, it’s been a blast. London – Brace! Brace! I’m coming to get you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: