Monday, August 31, 2009

Slowing down in the city

Sometimes you don't need to go all out to have a fantastic weekend. In my world, there's a lot to be said for the joy of sleeping in, playing board games, and enjoying a glass of wine in your pjs. You know what makes it even better? Sharing these low-key times with a good friend who has known me for more than the seven months I've lived here. I'm all for making the rounds of the monuments and memorials and museums and many, many amazing things that D.C. has to offer, which definitely happened this weekend - a lap around the National Mall, moments of reflection at the Washington Monument and World War II memorial, and other quintessential D.C. experiences - but sometimes the best "vacation" moments (and these weekends where friends come to visit are definitely vacations for me - I love our times together) are those that have nothing to with where you are and what all you're doing doing doing, but who you're with and what you're sharing. I'm getting a little Hallmark-card here, so maybe I should just launch into the weekend recap.

My dear friend Judy, who packed up her life and moved to New York City just a few months ago (three cheers for big life changes - go us!), came down to hang out for the weekend. She had been to D.C. before, but in the deep depths of winter when it's somewhat impractical to really get out and do a whole lot, so we resolved to remedy that with some additional museum/monument/wandering about time over the course of the weekend.

After knocking back a couple of movies during her Bolt bus time and suffering a slight delay in arrival due to silly things like monsoon-ish downpours and the perils of traffic, I greeted her in the lobby of my apartment building with a crushing hug, followed by girlish squeals from both of us. Apologies to the night desk guy and his eardrums ensued, then we quickly dropped off her stuff and headed out for a late dinner of tapas - chistorra envuelta en patata frita (spicy chorizo wrapped in crispy potato), croquetas de pollo (chicken fritters) - paella with shrimp, and some delightful red wine at Jaleo. With rain threatening us at every move, we opted to retire back to the sheltered safety of my apartment with a little more wine and some quality "Sex and the City" time.

Cue Saturday morning. Prime time to get an early start on the day and knock out tons of sightseeing before the concrete soaks up enough heat to bake you from underneath as the sun beats down on you from up above. Ummm...not for these gals. Sleeping in? Yes, please. Massive amounts of coffee accompanied by a little breakfast? Yes, please. Oh, and repeat the process on Sunday. Only pass on the little bit of breakfast so we have plenty of room to stuff ourselves with the likes of crispy catfish, friend shrimp, grilled broccoli, sweet potato fries, regular fries, and fried green tomatoes (yeah, so there were a lot of fried foods in the there...the broccoli is slightly redeeming, right?) at Tackle Box in Georgetown, followed by some shopping and neighborhood exploring in this ridiculously quaint and historic area of town. We also discovered the Old Stone House, a crazy-old house with a really cute garden hanging out in the middle of the city. History! It's everywhere!

And for those sightseeing moments...we did hit up the Old Post Office Tower, a new experience for me, which is completely free with remarkably minimal wait time and offers amazing views of the city. We also walked around the mall and the Washington Monument and the World War II memorial and theoretically through the American History museum, although the only thing we really saw there was an amazing banana split the size of our heads that we didn't just look at, but devoured with great enthusiasm. Friends are great for sharing massive desserts.

We did work in some sightseeing here and there, but we also spent a lot of quality time chilling in air conditioning, hanging out in lazy clothes and catching up on life and discussing the life to come. You know, the conversations you have with the people who know you, the people you can really be yourself with and just enjoy hanging out with. After our sightseeing adventures on Saturday, we were exhausted and came back to home base for a power nap so we could head back out on the town on Saturday night. Except...we just stayed lazy, ordered in Thai food, played cards and board games, enjoyed "Last Chance Harvey" courtesy of Comcast On Demand, and talked about life. It was a really refreshing way to spend a Saturday night, especially in this city of appearances and perception and always putting your best forward.  How relaxing to just be yourself and not worry what anyone is thinking of you.

Also...I seem to be stuck in a bit of a food rut when people come to visit. Not that I mind terribly - this rut consists of some really great places with tasty, tasty food. But shouldn't I be trying new things? Then things can be dangerous...cue memory of neon-yellow-walled Thai restaurant with precisely five other patrons and a floor fan taking the place of my preferred central air conditioning. The food was actually pretty decent, though - phew.

"You know, it feels like we could be back in Texas right now." One of my favorite moments of the weekend. Just good times with a good friend, hanging out and enjoying each other's company.

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