My DC Vacation and Trying to Catch Up!

Good morning! It’s been awhile! I’m continuing to be in a pretty weird headspace this month and haven’t had a lot of time or drive to write any blog posts. But now I’m starting to feel very behind on what’s been happening and I need to get back to my recaps! I’m going to break these last two weeks up, to make for more manageable reading content. ūüôā

Last Thursday I was finally able to take my trip to DC. I’ve visited my best friend Dianne there multiple times in the last few years, but always in September or October. This year was going to be different and we had an extensive trip planned out for April, centering around seeing the famous cherry blossoms. And then I broke my ankle. Stupidly (seriously), the PA at the doctor’s office told me I’d definitely still be able to take that April trip, I’d just be slower. Well, at the beginning of April I still couldn’t put any weight on my ankle, I could barely move around on my scooter, and there was NO WAY I would have survived solo travel across the country where I’d have to depend on public transportation to get me around for five days. Craziness. Anyway, we rescheduled for October and I think it was the perfect timing for me physically and weather-wise. I’m really glad it all worked out!

I left on Thursday afternoon and stopped at the huge Marshall’s on the way to the airport. (I’m obsessed.) Then I had just enough time to get through security, enjoy a salad at the airport Chili’s, and read a few minutes before boarding. I was nervous about my metal ankle plate setting off the metal detectors, but it either didn’t register, or the security people could see what it was on the x-ray machine thingy. I’ve yet to go through a regular metal detector, so I’m curious to see if I’ll set off alarms on those. Anyway, travel to DC was fast and easy. It’s amazing how far you can travel on just an hour and fifteen minute smooth flight! Dianne met me at the airport and we took the metro back to her apartment. It was getting late by that point so we just went to bed.

I wasn’t feeling the greatest on Friday, mostly from a couple nights of not great sleep and just travel in general. Dianne went to work, so I had the day to take at my own pace. I read for awhile in the morning and then just ventured out to the next metro stop to shop at Marshall’s (ha!) and Target. I wasn’t feeling very adventurous. But then I had lunch at Cava, my all time favorite DC quick food option. I guess it doesn’t look particularly appealing in the photo, but it is sooooo good. The apple cinnamon vanilla iced tea was amazing too. After lunch I went back to the apartment to take a nap and felt a lot better after that.

After my nap I took a little stroll through the neighborhood shops. There was a bookstore and a few little gift places. I had coffee at this tiny little shop, sitting on the porch while I watched a ton of squirrels playing together. Then I took the metro to Chinatown and mostly just wandered around. There is shopping in that area, but I didn’t do any research ahead of time and ended up just wandering down quieter streets and looking for benches to rest for awhile. It was supposed to be my resting day to gear up for more walking over the weekend, but I still ended up with over 15,000 steps all three days.

I met up with Dianne at a place called Dirty Habit for cocktails Friday evening. It was kind of like a hotel’s rooftop/courtyard bar area and also the place where her husband Jack proposed to her. It was a really cool place! We had some sort of orange and champagne cocktails.

Next we went to a couple of shops (I bought a super cute pair of earrings) and then had dinner at a place called Oyamel. We had reservations so we were able to get in right away, but we were seated next to the bar which was SO LOUD. But the food was good! I ordered chicken verde enchiladas and mango agua fresca, which was so tasty. Dianne had tacos, but everything was served small plate style, so we were still hungry and ended up ordering a second round of crispy brussel sprouts and mole french fries, which weren’t as yummy. But it was a cool restaurant!

On the way back we stopped at a cider place near her apartment to get another drink.

I only had the tasting size, but whew! That was enough! We asked the bartender for the sweetest one, but I guess that in turn meant it had the highest alcohol content. I drank it, but don’t think cider is really my drink! We played a few rounds of bananagrams while we were there, which was really fun!

On Saturday morning, Dianne rented a zipcar and we drove to the National Arboretum. I only knew this even existed through a post Anne Bogel wrote earlier this year about her visit there, so I was excited to check it out too! There were a lot of different gardens and walking trails and these columns from the original (I think…) White House. The woodsy trails just looked a lot like Wisconsin woodsy trails, but it was really fun, peaceful, and pretty to walk through everything.

The best part, though, was seeing all the bonsai trees! I took a picture of basically every tree. I don’t think it made this collage, but it was really cool to see the oldest bonsai in the US, which started growing in the 1600’s!! My favorites were the ones that looked like itty bitty forests. I also liked the ones that were more unique plant varieties. It was so awesome just seeing all of them in one area like that.

Next on our agenda was DC’s Union Market, which was a big building filled with unique little restaurant booths. It wasn’t too crowded yet, so we had time to walk through and check everything out. We both decided on Korean chicken tacos from Takorean, a place Dianne has eaten at before and always sounded delicious to me. They were great!

We took a walk around the outside of the building to check out all the instagrammable spots.

And then back inside because I wanted to get one of these amazing looking donuts for dessert. It was so light and fluffy. Really good meal!

On the way back to the apartment we stopped at the farmer’s market right across the street. I didn’t get anything, but it’s always fun to check out the markets in different areas of the country. Back inside I took a little reading break while Dianne went for a run and then we headed back out to do some shopping. I got an amazing iced mocha from Pret and at Loft I picked out a great black and gray polka dot scarf. Then we went to the theater to watch¬†The Hate U Give. I’ve been anxious to see it after reading the book and it didn’t disappoint! It was heavy, though! As expected.

For dinner we went to a place called Timber. Dianne had given me a gift certificate to go there as a birthday present and I intended to go Friday for lunch, but it wasn’t open – which was fine because I got some awesome Cava instead. Timber was pretty packed, so we ended up getting it to go and eating back at the apartment. Then we settled in for the night with our food and a movie. I was definitely ready to relax by then!

On Sunday morning, Dianne reserved a car to rent so we could drive to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, a cute little city she’d been to a couple of times and thought I’d enjoy seeing. We had a few hiccups with our car rental and ended up with a huge van. It was fun driving there because I got to be in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia all in about a three minute span. My first time in WV! We were able to grab the last parking spot in the town’s very limited lot and had a fast breakfast at a little cafe. This blueberry scone was SO good. The plain coffee, not so much. But it was hot and that was all that really mattered. It was SO COLD on Sunday.

Next we walked a bit of the Appalachian Trail! The picture makes it look like it was rainy, but really it was just gloomy and freezing cold and super windy. But the trail and the town itself were beautiful!

We walked up a big hill to see a rock that Jefferson once stood on. The city was built on a hill, so I did a more stair climbing and hill walking than I have in basically forever (31 flights according to my fitbit!). It was rough on my ankle, but I survived!! When the sun came out Harpers Ferry looked so quaint and lovely.

There weren’t a ton of things to see, but we did go into all the little shops. I liked the bookstore and a candy shop that sold “candy” that people would have eaten from biblical times through today. It was really interesting to see the progression. Overall, I loved getting out of DC and seeing something unique and special! It was so awesome how Dianne had the whole trip planned out so well.

Before leaving we got lunch at a small cafe. It was simple, but really hit the spot after all the walking and climbing.

Next on our agenda was a stop in the city of Frederick, Maryland. They have a big downtown filled with unique shops. I bought Greg and the boys some fun candy and I got myself some tea and spices. Then we headed back to the apartment and finished the night at their local taqueria. This might have been the tastiest meal of the trip. If I had a taqueria in my neighborhood with those prices I’d be there every day!! The fried chicken taco with the habanero salsa was so good. I also had some Mexican creamy rice that didn’t make the photo, but was really good. It was a great end the day!

On Monday morning we just got ready and headed out. Everything was timed pretty well so I had plenty of time for every mode of transportation, but was never just sitting around and bored for long stretches. The day still seemed to last forever, but it was good to be home. Vacations are great, but it’s always nice to settle back in at home. But yes – overall, a great little getaway that took my mind off of a lot of stressful things for a few days. I really needed it and had a lot of fun!

On Friendship: Lamenting the past, trying to embrace the future

I used to have a lot of friends. Just a couple of years ago, I felt like I belonged in a pretty strong group of friends. We all had kids the same ages. We were all stay at home moms. We met often for playdates and park visits. When we didn’t have something extra planned, we still saw each other multiple times a day at school drop offs and pick ups. Our kids were in sports together, we met at each other’s houses for coffee, we had girls’ nights at a local bar. I felt part of something and so grateful to have those women in my life.

Fast forward a small handful of years and I feel like I’ve lost almost all of that. The couple of people I felt¬†closest to started pairing off and I became the third wheel that was eventually left behind. A lot of my friends had another round of babies, which also made me feel excluded – not only because I wasn’t going to have any more, but because I didn’t want to. Some friends started full time jobs, some friends moved their kids to different schools. My kids both became full time students and I entered that weird and misunderstood arena of “work at home mom.” I don’t have kids around during the day to schedule play dates that benefit me more than anything. The richness of my friendship circle¬†changed so drastically in such a short time that some days I have a really hard time dealing with it.

I still see many of those original friends every single day when I pick up my kids. But it’s different. It’s distant. It’s full of small talk and amiable hello’s that bring nothing to my desire for true and meaningful and¬†real friendships. It’s awkward and lonely and so many days I’d prefer to stay at home in my hideout just to avoid another round of shallow nothingness.

I’m not sure if I’m the one to blame for what I’ve lost. Sometimes I wonder if my parenting style alone is something that’s kind of launched me away from the group. I love my kids. But I’m not a helicopter parent. I don’t rush to their side if they fall down. I don’t really care if they’re rolling around in the mud and destroying their clothes. I don’t try to monitor their relationships and watch everything they’re doing at all times. I’ve never been one to get down on the floor and play at their level. And I’m terrible at interacting with kids that aren’t my own. I like that my kids can get hurt and brush it off two seconds later, without needing to run to me for comfort. I like that they’re not super sensitive and having their feelings hurt a million times a day by what other people might say to them. But I think I’m in the minority. And perhaps I’m judged for it.

I’m also just really bad at being myself with people. Or maybe the problem is that I’m too much myself and that scares people off. I’ve written about it before, but I had a mishap with a friend a few years ago that really put me on edge about how much I share with people. Every conversation I have with her I feel like I’m being judged and looked down on. I’m terrified of being honest about anything, because my honesty isn’t always positive. And that’s a problem with her. I like to be honest about what I’m going through, what my life is really like. Which is why I love to write because writing makes honesty easy. But in person? People aren’t usually ready for that kind of vulnerability. Not in a casual after school conversation at least. And when that’s the only time I ever get to interact with people, it leaves me with nothing worthwhile to say.

I think I’m also just really bad at interacting in general! I’m home alone all day every day. I’ve lost the ability to have conversations with people. I’ve always been shy and I hate being the center of attention in a group. If I see two friends talking, there’s very little chance I’ll go and interrupt them. And when I see someone else alone, I’m even more scared to make the initial contact. I’m guessing having a child attached to me is what gave me the courage to find friends a few years ago in the first place. But without that buffer, I don’t know what to say. I’m a socially awkward mess. Which makes me retreat. Which comes off as stuck up or standoffish or uninterested. Which isn’t the case! I just don’t know how to be functional female friend anymore.

In the last year, hoping to move my closest friendships to a deeper level, I’ve really just focused on feeding those few people that I had the most connection with. Without realizing it, I kind of dropped the ability to hold on to the rest. But things have been good with the few. We don’t see each other as often as I’d like, but we do make an effort. Circumstances have recently changed which has made it even harder. They’ve made life changes which were right for them and their families. But selfishly, I hate how hard it’s been on me. So hard. Because now that I don’t see either of them on a daily basis – or even a weekly basis – I’m realizing how much I’ve lost in the last few years. How many people I used to be close to that now would really rather have nothing to do with me. And it’s a lonely place to be.

With all that behind me, I’m trying to figure out how to get my friends back. Maybe not even the friends of the past. I’m completely open to finding new friends, though it seems so hard when I’m sitting in a house by myself working day in and day out! I’m trying to reconfigure how to make friendships work when we all have families, we all have some type of job, we’re all incredibly busy. But I desperately,¬†desperately don’t want to let the hope of true friendship go.

I feel like consistency is the key in all relationships. If you don’t SEE each other, how can you be close? If you’re not living life together, how can you be the best of friends? If you’re not vulnerable and open, what’s the point? I crave those relationships in my life. I know there are so many things I could do to make them happen. Or at least start them blooming. I could ask people over for coffee. I could plan a monthly girls’ night the way we used to do, open to anybody that needed it. I could schedule afternoon playdates. Dog park meetups for our kids AND dogs. I could ask someone if they’re interested in taking a walk with me once a week. The list of possibilities is endless. The problem is actually doing it. Taking that leap of faith even though it means risking rejection. I hate nothing more than rejection. It hurts me to my core, even if someone has a very logical reason for saying no. With every no, it stops me from asking the next ten times I think about it. It’s so easy to give up and hole away. I don’t want to be that annoying person that tries to tear people away from their families. I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want people feeling obligated to spend time with me because I ask so many times. And so, I don’t. But I wish I did.

I know there is hope for me. There is hope for everyone. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who is missing this in my life. But I can’t be. Right?? Even though my friendship numbers have greatly diminished over the years, they’re still important to me. And I want to treat them with as much importance as I used to. And I want to be open to making more friends. Maybe people I didn’t have a lot in common with a few years ago, but can align more closely with who I am today. And I don’t want to just sit around waiting for people to come to me because experience shows that doesn’t really happen. It’s time to open up, take a few risks, and make my friendships strong again.