Spending the day in Old Town (Alexandria, Virginia).

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Alexandria, specifically Old Town, was the number one reason I wanted to go to DC before we headed to Europe.  Last time I was in DC, I spent two full days here – the first alone, the second with a friend – and even those two days weren’t enough.  I couldn’t wait to take Joe there with me, especially to show him Red Barn Mercantile, the picture-perfect little shop where we’d ordered our wedding favors (our favorite Tatine candle and a customized matchbook for each guest).

We were staying in Adams Morgan, and our host (Joe's good friend and roommate from Brown/one of our groomsmen) had recommended that we Uber to the Farragut Metro and then ride that to the Old Town stop: King Street.  Joe and I, however, came up with our own plan, in part to take in as much of DC as we could and in part to save just a little bit of money: we walked the mile-and-a-half to the metro instead of Ubering.  We passed several Embassies on our way, and contemplated whether or not to visit the National Geographic Museum as we passed it.  Joe ultimately decided against it, soundly reasoning, “Eh, let’s not; we can always just look at their Instagram.”

Also on our way to the Metro station, a random bystander passed Joe on the street and became visibly excited when he saw that his t-shirt displayed the letters ‘OKC.’  When he approached us, I expected him to comment on something Thunder-related, or the Bombing (interestingly, this is often the first topic new friends in Europe bring up upon finding out where I’m from), or something about tornadoes, or the unanswerable question “Who is more embarrassing: Christina Fallin or her mother?” or anything relating to the state of Oklahoma in general.  Instead, he smiled giddily at Joe and asked, “Does the ‘OKC’ stand for OK Cupid?” with a twinkle in his eye.  Bewildered, Joe answered, “No . . . the Thunder.”  Bystander was embarrassed, Joe was confused, and onward we walked. “Why would anyone wear an OK Cupid shirt?” Joe wondered aloud, whereas I was more concerned that the letters O, K and C apparently do not, upon first glance, bring images of Russell Westbrook power dunks to the minds of everyone who sees them.  Something seems very wrong about that.

Anyhow, we made it to Alexandria and I taught Joe my go-to Old Town routine: walk down one side of King Street – all the way, from start to finish, until you get to the waterfront – and back up the other, diverting onto side streets as needed.  This could take all day, depending on how many shops catch your eye (warning: there could be a lot).  We made sure to allocate a full half hour to Red Barn Mercantile and it was a pleasure to meet Kathy, the shop-owner with whom I’d been in contact in fulfilling my wedding order.  We had communicated for several months as she worked to get the order just right, and meeting her in person was so delightful; she had a million questions about our wedding, so we showed her pictures and told her stories and talked about HOW HAPPY WE ARE THAT IT IS OVER until it was time to venture on to the next store. 

We finished off the day almost emptying our bank accounts (but refraining!) in Pendleton and perusing the Torpedo Factory Art Center, which is a place I highly recommend visiting when spending a day in Old Town.  Talk about emptying your bank account; I wanted to buy everything in the whole gallery!  Joe had me point out pieces of pottery that I liked and then promised me, "I'll make you something like that" about each one of them.  This wasn't too surprising since he is an amazing artist and loves working with a potters wheel, but I'm pretty excited about all the bowls and soap dishes and colanders in my future, regardless.

The most shocking part of the day: we didn’t even go into H&M!  Instead, we took our time down by the waterfront, discussing how cool it would be practice law in Alexandria – I mean, how cute and quaint and non-municipal-looking is their courthouse?  I’m pretty sure courthouse aesthetics are supposed to be the metric by which you gauge your career options as an attorney, so this particular conversation was an important one.

When we’d reached a point in the day where we couldn’t walk anymore, we headed back to the metro, the walk there seeming so much longer than when we had made it earlier in the day.  Exhausted, I slept the entire 22-minute ride back to the city and was so disoriented that when Joe woke me up at our stop, I felt very deep and rational resentment toward him for not just leaving me on the train and letting me sleep.  Thankfully, he forced me out of my semi-coma, because we had places to go and friends to see.

And we saw a lot of friends in DC; 2 of Joe’s old roommates, my old roommate, more of Joe’s friends from Brown, and most importantly, we saw Erica.  Erica had met Joe at our wedding but it felt like such a luxury to be able to spend a full evening with her, giving her our undivided attention (whereas at the wedding, I probably spoke to her for a combined total of five minutes....so depressing).  She invited us over to her apartment for wine and cheese, where we reminisced about our crazy lives in Vienna (particularly our obsession with the Vienna night life as well as the time we visited the deadliest go-cart track in Eastern Europe?) before going out for tapas at Boquaria. 

Originally, I had planned on spending hours with Erica, no matter how late into the night we talked.  So after dinner, when Erica asked if we wanted to go out for drinks, I saw no reason as to why that wasn’t a fantastic idea.  But around midnight, I began to reach the point in our conversation where every sentence – no, every word – was punctuated by a very loud and dramatic yawn.  Recognizing that I’d reached my limit (because in your mid- to late-20’s, the limits are real, whereas in your early- to mid-20’s they are virtually nonexistent), I apologized to Erica, hugged her goodbye, and headed back with Joe to go to sleep immediately if not sooner.  I wasn’t too sad to leave her, though; we have done a pretty good job of staying in touch over the past few years (meeting up in BolognaWurzburg, and Berlin, to name just a few), so I’m confident I’ll see her again soon.  Maybe when Joe and I move to DC to practice in Alexandria? 

Only kidding.  I think.
Jenny@JenericGeneration said...

I started reading this at a faster and faster pace so as not to forget all the things I would need to comment on. 1) I miss the Waterfront so much 2) I can't believe you didn't go to H&M 3) I didn't know Joe was an artist! 4) I met Erica in the bathroom at your wedding, and we had a nice long chat (mainly about why you didn't connect us while I was living in DC, but no hard feelings, of course). 5) Oh. And OK CUPID?? Really??? 6) I'm so happy you got to meet Kathy! I never met her, but the fact that you did is so satisfying. 7) The walk back toward the Metro is twice as long, I swear. I am so glad you love Old Town!

Jan said...

I would have loved that Red Barn Store!!!

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