This past weekend, I took a half day of vacation and drove on down to the Northern VA // DC area for the wedding of two AU friends, Greg and JJ. Along the way, I got to do a lot of miles towards breaking in my new car; visited a bunch of other friends; had a lot of fun; and even got to unexpectedly reaffirm my sense that the DC area is really not the right one for me to go back to for any sort of job. Read on:
After a half day at work, I drove down through PA in my new car. Cruise control set for 80mph, over the large hills across PA down to Breezewood, I averaged a cool 49.75mpg in a car rated for 46mph highway prior to the engine being fully broken in. VERY pleased with my new car 🙂
I spent the Friday night of the weekend at Deb and Bill’s house – you may recall them from my March 2015 trip down for a wedding in North Carolina, because it was at their house that I stayed to replace the power steering pump in my old Passat! This time, there were no car troubles, and instead a slew of fun games like Kingdom Builder, Grav Well, and more:
Saturday involved a traffic-filled drive from Falls Church up to NW DC, to have lunch with my friend Molly from AU. Great to catch up, nice to go back to an old restaurant I used to frequent (Chef Geoff’s), and it was almost eerie to be back in the NW DC area after years away now, with no real agenda and just driving through (more on that later). My new Cruze is awesome in most ways but the built-in GPS sometimes makes bad calls… like taking me through Georgetown to get to NW DC. What a traffic/firestorm of driving that was, not my first time but I also wasn’t expecting it this weekend.
I drove down to Dulles VA (traffic is no joke) for the wedding. The venue for ceremony and reception both was the 1757 Golf Club, an expensive little oasis in the sprawl of Dulles and before the airport proper. It was in use before, during, and possibly even after the wedding went down (GIGANTIC floodlights to make the golf driving go on regardless of solar viability).
The weather was to be a rainy mess on the weekend, but we lucked out and were able to hold the ceremony outside – and enjoy the authentic bagpipe to the fullest!!
The ceremony was very thoughtful and enhanced by wind and clouds (and at one point, interrupted by a rude landing jumbo jet on approach to the airport!), and brought together a couple which has long dated and enjoyed each other’s company into a formal alliance. Very satisfying to be a witness to!
The reception, which followed, was a delightfully fun event, some of my friends at which made me laugh until mouth and stomach both delved into soreness. Much needed, and much enjoyed – drinks and jokes flowed freely. Great to see some very old friends from AU and catch up a bit, but mostly to just have a good time.
I departed in the rain (which had finally broken its wedding-length moratorium, it seems) for Arlington, to visit my old friend Andrew (we couldn’t even recall how long we have known each other – but estimated a decade at this point). Sleeping there after a quick round of Small World, we got up in the morning and did the most delightful mix of Sunday activities – board games, delicious food, South Park screening, and visiting in person for once. A great end to a grand weekend!
In closing, then, I would speak to a VERY strong feeling I experienced as I drove through Georgetown… twice (the GPS did it to me on the way out of DC as well 😦 ) and had a chance to relive old memories from time spent at AU as well as to re-experience things anew which I recalled not liking. For instance, the crowded nature of the city, but not just the crowding of people: I relearned the unpleasant reality of JUST how crowded-in buildings are to one another; cars while in lanes but also while parked; and the constriction of space is accompanied by a frankly sickening gouging of living costs paid. I knew all of these things before while living there, and I didn’t like them then – but this past weekend, I really got hit by a strong sentiment of “NO, I do NOT want to go back to the DC area to live and work.” This is a big change, because for years now the back of my head has held the Return to DC plan as the long arc of my career. This arc was dependent on my willingness to live in a place which really wasn’t good or healthy for me in any way (see: 7 months in Israel/Palestine; 3 years in New Haven CT), but having been home in NE OH for over a year now… I have rediscovered how much I love this place (its friendly people; the cold-cleaving temperate climate; the reasonable cost of living; and the open spaces)… and more importantly, I have been able to track and chart JUST how much happier and healthier I have been in a place I genuinely like, doing things I enjoy and love. So, while it was awesome to visit old friends in DC, and while I am deeply thankful for the things I learned and gained during my time there, one of the biggest parts of this trip for me was finally letting go of an unhealthy, mismatched intent to eventually return to the DC area for work.
Life can (and will) change, but it feels good having done that this past weekend in the midst of celebration and merriment.