When we started planning this trip more than two years ago, we knew that Michael would not be able to leave his project before the first week of November (he had been supporting this client and their benefits Open Enrollment for 3 years, at that time). We also knew that November was WAY too late to be leaving MA in a sailboat! Our solution was to take a two week vacation in August and bring the boat to DC, where Ally and I would stay, while he went back and forth to Jacksonville for 2 months.
Two months in DC??!! I was positively giddy! Most of you know I grew up in Alexandria, right around the corner from Mt. Vernon. To be able to see everyone and do everything in my hometown—and to share that experience with Ally—was just too good to be true! I basically lived for those two months in DC for a L O N G time, particularly as I was working as a pre-school teacher’s aide in New Bedford!
It was everything I could have ever hoped for…and more! Sailing past Mt. Vernon in my very own boat with my sweet family is something I cannot even begin to describe. The only exception being that even 7 weeks is not long enough to see everyone and do everything J However, we did manage to see A LOT of people and do A LOT of amazing things!! In fact, I am pretty sure we had more social engagements in 7 weeks than we have had in the past 7 years. And that is where the ‘overwhelmed’ part comes in: how do I justify this amazing experience with words???
Let me start with the friends and family with whom we spent time. The dinners and other gatherings hosted in honor of our visit were humbling. I have long contested that I have the best friends in the world…and I really do! Keep in mind, I sold my car at the last minute, opting not to fly home and drive it back to have in DC, as we discussed for some time. I really wanted to experience DC from a ‘202’ area code perspective: walking, public transportation and the occasional cab (or Uber, as those in the know prefer!). But this also meant that friends had to either pick us up at our marina in the city or wherever the closest Metro dropped us.
As we sailed up the Potomac to anchor off Belle Haven Marina for the weekend, we were greeted by Dan Lynch, one of my wave pool life guard buddies from high school days! It was a Friday and he had commuted to work via his boat. He was on his way home and did donuts around us—suit pants, white undershirt, bare feet and beer in hand. Vintage Danny! Did we want to go to a West Potomac High School football game? (He has four kids, three boys—one of whom plays in the high school marching band—and a 10-year-old daughter, Ava.) Um, not really. But Ally does! Off she went to hang out with Ava at my rival high school’s football game…too funny! They kayaked back out to Ally Cat about 11 pm. It was so cute to hear their voices approaching us in the night! And so nice to have a date night with my honey!
The next day, my dear friend since junior high days, Stephanie Miles, aka Stir, met me at the marina for a walk along the bike path. Oh, how many days of my life did I spend walking, running, and/or biking that bike path??!! And how many runs and walks had Stir and I been on together over the years??!! After taking an unexpected swim getting out of the dinghy (ick…don’t ask!), we walked, then Stir insisted I get cleaned up and gave my dry clothes so we could spend the day together—lunch, errands…fun! That night Ally spent the night with Ava (not being sure when we would see other kids, we wanted her to get her ‘fix’!), and Michael and I were Stir and John’s guests at their community pool end-of-the-summer Crab Feast. Now if that doesn’t scream ‘I am HOME’ I don’t know what would!
A week later, I decided to brave public transportation. Kristin Sawyer, my AIDS Ride and Bermuda Marathon buddy, wanted me to run in the Diva 5K with her. So I walked to L’Enfant Plaza (about 10 minutes from our marina) and took the Silver Line bus to Dulles Airport where she picked me up. I still had to register and we managed to get where we needed to be in plenty of time. Wow, there is a lot of pink here! And tiaras and tutus…love it! Gee, I’m hungry…how about you? Somehow, we ended up in the clubhouse for the golfers and though we were seated, we were informed that we weren’t appropriately attired! Did we want to borrow golf shirts so we could stay? Hahahaha!!!!! Our waitress was very cute and funny about it and Kristin and I just laughed…and put on the golf shirts. Quite the fashion statement, I must say! Hummm, how about a beer? But we’re getting ready to run a race! Who are we kidding? We are not racing, we are running to hang out with each other. A beer, it is!
Kristin and I met in our early 20’s at a White House Hash House Harriers (WH4) run. (If you have not heard of ‘Hashers’, they are a crazy international network of ‘drinking clubs with a running problem’. I have met a lot of dear friends through that group…and even met Michael on a winding path as a result of a fellow hasher!) We had so much time back then to hang out—just the two of us or just the girls. Now with miles and husbands and kids, it has been years since we have had that luxury. And I had missed it indeed…I have missed it with WAY too many of my girlfriends! What a delightful evening! Oh, and the bling…oh my!!
After the run, Kristin dropped me back at the Metro to ride to Springfield for a sleepover at Stir’s, as she had a Spa Day planned for my birthday! I can’t remember the name of either the coffee shop or the salon, but both were perfect…as was the time with Stir. Even though life has made it difficult to be in touch as often as either of us would like, we are able to just pick up right where we have left off every time. Forever friends are like that! After being spoiled rotten and emerging with gorgeous pink fingers and toes, we were back in ‘mom mode’ and I was able to spend time with her boys, Will (16) and Ben (14). When did they get so HUGE??!! We had lunch and then headed to Will’s basketball game. She and John have much for which to be proud when it comes to their boys. They are polite, are doing well in school, and enjoy lots of sports. And both are Eagle Scouts! And we were lucky enough to be in town to attend Ben’s ceremony!
And that was just September…whew!
To be continued…