Voyages of Discovery

December 19, 2008

My beloved BeltwayThis is my last post for a while, dear readers, as the much-needed holiday va-k season officially begins.

After hosting a holiday cookie exchange with fab friends on Sunday, at the crack of dawn Monday morning, my husband and I are driving to DC (where we met and where I moved here from) and Annapolis (where we got married) to see friends and family over the Christmas holiday.

We won’t be back until late Sunday night, so I probably won’t blog again until Tuesday or so.

This means several things:

1) I will be away from my house. (my usual food/morning get-ready routine)

2) Away from the gym. (my usual exercise routine)

3) Away from my computer. (my technology addiction)

Could be scary, but I’m not afraid. After all this time, I know some certainties about myself.

I will bring my usual stash of apples and FiberOne bars, and my sneakers always travel with me (whether I use them or not is to be determined).

I’m really going to just focus on enjoying the experience of going back “home”. Hell, I even worked my WW week so that I am back to Friday-Friday weeks, meaning I’ll be able to split up the vacation a little (having had such a light weekend this past weekend helped, even with my Chex binge for dinner Monday night).

This will be the first time my husband and I are back on our old “stomping grounds” without a wedding or some other event to attend, which means we’ll have time to sight-see (something I took for granted living and working in DC for all those years).

I have memories in so many places in that city because in many ways, my adult life began there. I came to DC the summer of 1997 an eager, wide-eyed teenager from the boonies (anyone who knows Vernon, NJ will agreE) and left it the fall of 2006 a pulled-together, engaged woman who was now a homeowner with a blossoming career.

Today reflecting on it, I realized just how much happened in that city those 9 years.

Listening to then-President Clinton address our university (American) my very first week of college in Bender Auditorium (where I’d later receive my degrees). Going to Taste of DC and the cherry blossom festival on the Mall with friends. 4th of July on the mall before we all went abroad. Maggiano’s Family Style lunches with the gang … (and the chorus of, “Oh I’m soooo stuffed … who’s taking that lasagna home?!”)

A class trip to a Smithsonian, or an internship at an amazing NGO or on the Hill? That stuff was par for the course.

There’s the dorm where my best friend and I met in the bathroom … and the classrooms and lounges where I met people who would change my life …

Where one door closed (a painful breakup freshman year), and another opened (meeting my now-husband senior year) when I returned from my semester in Argentina.

And how lucky was I that I used to have lunch in the park by the White House with one friend, and in front of the Willard Hotel with another. I’d take long walks to Union Station from my office at Farragut West … an hour-long stroll past the Capitol, breezing by it, awed by it but not impressed the way perhaps a tourist would be. After all, it was “my city.” I never thought twice about it … until I left.

My bachelorette party was held in Georgetown, and the Georgetown Mall is where I found out who my “Big” was in my sorority at Revelation. There’s Great Falls, where I’ve hiked with friends and, later, my husband. There’s Xando (now Cosi) where my college girls and I would sit after our sorority’s chapter meeting every Sunday night.

There’s the Pentagon — I rode the bus past it on my way home every day when I lived in Arlington, which for months and months had a huge gaping hole after September 11.

There’s the Air & Space Museum my dad loves to visit and the Museum of American History that my high school friends love to hit up when they’d come down. The Newseum I adore (which has just reopened). And the Holocaust Museum I still haven’t been able to get tickets for (just been to Jacob’s Room).

There’s the places I’ve either interned or worked … US News & World Report, National Geographic, the National Education Association, NGSA (a lobbying firm in the energy industry), the Peace Corps. All amazing institutions that carved my career path and made me who I am today.

The Metro I rode every day (I always loved the Red Line best, even with its penchant for delays), the Washington Post or Express tucked under my arm (Man, I miss those Express crosswords!).

The apartments I’ve lived in: DC, Arlington and Silver Spring. The Caribou Coffee at MetroCenter where one of my best friends and I would meet a couple times a week. National and Dulles Airports, where my husband and I said more goodbyes than any couple should ever need to do …

And then the food. So many of my memories are related to places I’ve dined at with friends or loved ones. There’s Thomas Sweets for fro-yo and Old Glory for BBQ. Zaytinya for Mediterranean tapas. Coppi’s Organic for amazing Italian. Cactus Cantina, where Jason and our college group spent many a night. Bread & Chocolate where, as a “lady” I used to do brunch with my friends. And all the new places that have sprung up that I don’t even know about yet.

(And these are only some of my D.C. memories. My Annapolis memories would take up another post!)

Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

I’ve always loved this quote, and I hope, more than anything, to have new eyes this visit. I’m a little older now and hopefully a little wiser. I hope I can appreciate what I’ve left behind, but also what’s in front of me … and perhaps most importantly, where I am in this very moment — on a recovery journey I could have never envisioned but am so glad to be on.

I have to admit, it’s going to be a bit weird to go back — bittersweet perhaps? Plus, I can’t remember the last time I took a full week-long vacation. Probably our wedding/honeymoon? That was over two years ago, and we didn’t even make it to DC then (just Annapolis for our wedding).

That said, I hope to embrace the time away and come back in full force after the little break, having spent time with friends and family in places near and dear to us. It’ll be nice to get away from snowy Michigan, from work, from the day-to-day grind.

And even though I’m Jewish, I love decorations, Christmas music, Silk Soy Nog (which I blogged about here), and chocolate-peppermint everything. Yea, I love everything about this time of year. Especially the holiday cups at Starbucks!

Wishing you and yours a very wonderful holiday — Happy Hanukkah/Merry Christmas, peace, joy and love. Cheers to 2009 as a fresh start and a fresh journey … with new, brighter eyes.


Entry Filed under: Special Occasions, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , .

17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. run4change  |  December 19, 2008 at 8:21 am

    I wish you the best of luck on health over the vacation and I hope that you have a fabulous time. I am sure you will. It will be a great self victory to get back to the old stomping grounds where crazy habits were developed, but this time you will be living with new habits and kick old habits butts. I like the post and I like the blog. Have fun.

  • 2. Jenny  |  December 19, 2008 at 8:25 am

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you! I will certainly miss your posts for awhile. Don’t you love how Christmas allows us to really take stock of where we are in this moment. This christmas for me is soooo different from where I was a year ago, and it’s really amazing thing to be able to look back and see the progress I’ve made. Good luck with going back, and enjoy the holidays!

  • 3. Sharon  |  December 19, 2008 at 8:55 am

    I feel as though I have so much in common with you! I went to school in DC too (GW), and fell in love with the city…….your list of sights brought back many fond memories. Enjoy your trip, I’m jealous! Happy Chanukah too! :0)

  • 4. Danielle J  |  December 19, 2008 at 9:00 am

    I’m from Montgomery county and go to UMD so this post was definitely a walk through my neighborhood!
    You’ve GOT to try mr.yogato if you end up in the dupont area. Its frozen yogurt california style so it actually tastes like yogurt and has lots of fun toppings.. I’m pretty sure its low points but very indulgent :)

  • 5. marafaye  |  December 19, 2008 at 10:05 am

    Have an amazing trip and thoroughly enjoy yourself!!! I’ll miss you :)

  • 6. Lee  |  December 19, 2008 at 10:58 am

    When did you work at US News? My mom was the library director there for about 5 years.

    Have you been to Lebanese Taverna? They have several locations in MD and DC. That’s my all-time favorite restaurant when I go back to visit.

  • 7. run4change  |  December 19, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Man I feel left out, I live way over here on the west coast

  • 8. lara  |  December 19, 2008 at 11:35 am

    LOL Danielle I came here to post about. Mr. Yogato. Real frozen yogurt is booming here in DC (finally!) Not talking fro-yo like TCBY or Columbo, but natural, plain frozen yogurt the way it was meant to be–slightly tart, just a bit sweet and no chemciallly junky stuff like the others. Tangysweet in Dupoint and Sweetgreens in Georgetown are also delish. Sweetgreens says theirs is 10 cals/ounce.

    Zaytinya is one of my alltime faves. Other great newer places are Proof, Rasika, and Matchbox in Chinatown/Penn Quarter and Central downton.

  • 9. lissa10279  |  December 19, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Hi everyone, thank you so much for the well-wishes.

    Glad you like it, Jason!

    Hi Jenny, aw thanks!

    Hi Sharon!! Isn’t DC just the best? I used to be all about NY (growing up in NJ) but really, DC is “the city” to me. Happy Hannukah!

    Hi Danielle, ooh that sounds like a new place for me to try!

    Thanks Mara — I’ll miss you all too!

    Lee, it was the spring semester of 2001. I interned in the New Media department Emily Schenk was my boss — and Muriel. Too funny! OMG I LOVE Lebanese Taverna!! There was one in Arlington (Pentagon Row) and the one in the city — love it!

    Aw — don’t feel bad, there’s plenty on the west coast I don’t know!

    Too funny Lara!! I love Thomas Sweets fro-yo — 10 cals an ounce also .Sooo good!

    Oh Matchbox — pizza, salads, swoon! Love that place. But Zaytinya takes the cake. I remember when it opened … love it!

  • 10. Missy (Missy Maintains)  |  December 19, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Have a great holiday! I will be in Maryland as well visiting my friends from college! I do have some anxiety about eating the food in their house but I am trying not to worry too much!! Have fun!

  • 11. sarah  |  December 19, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    um, what about your little and the georgetown mall - what am i?! chopped liver? geez!!! where’s the love?

  • 12. lissa10279  |  December 19, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Thanks, Missy!! Have fun!! :)

    Oops, sorry Little!! I didn’t remember our Rev there but you’re right — now that I think back!!

  • 13. lissa10279  |  December 19, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    And I think we both killed the family fish. Well my beta killed itself, my fault for putting his little tank near my mirrored vanity in Anderson Hall!!

  • 14. mamaV  |  December 19, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Hi Melissa: Whenever I tell myself “I am going to focus on relaxing or enjoying myself” I set myself up for disaster. I mention this because I recall you saying you felt guilty for counting calories after your wedding and this post reminded me of that comment.

    To this I say in Yogi style; just be. Feel whatever you feel, be in the moment, and if you feel like crap feel it, if you feel anxiety let it rip, if you feel tense being out of your routine, admit it. Lean on your husband and be real.

    You should have a blast, it sounds like you have a lot of reminicing to do.

    I will be snowed in with my children and husband for 16 days, and I hope we all come out alive….there’s no place I would rather be.


  • 15. run4change  |  December 20, 2008 at 11:04 am


    I liked what you said. I tend to get anxious. I am learning to be real with my wife about and as you said, “Let it rip”. Good comment and good advice. I set myself up for disappointment sometimes, but I am learning to get up faster when I get down.


  • 16. lissa10279  |  December 20, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    Thanks for the other side of the coin, MamaV :) It’s funny you mention that because pretty much that happens with me everytime. Maybe having no expectations isn’t such a bad thing after all. “Let it be” — I will aim for that instead. Thank you — that really is what I needed to hear today.

    Hope you have a great time, too!! :) Snowed in sounds just perfect!! Esp. with the ones we love the most.

  • 17. V  |  December 22, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    I LOVE great falls. nice to hear you give it a shoutout :-) I grew up in Northern VA and have a lot of love for the area.

    Have a wonderful holiday!

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