Going home and back again
For the first time in years, I enjoyed a perfect vacation with friends and family. I fly to Massachusetts/Rhode Island at least once a year for the Christmas holiday. Sometimes I manage to visit for Easter or Thanksgiving, but Christmas is the sure thing.
Since moving to DC 8 years ago, I've celebrated the Fourth of July with friends who travel from NYC, Boston, London, LA (etc.) to crash on my couch and partake in the city's festivities. This is the first time I've traveled north for the holiday.
Usually when I come home (to DC) from a visit, I'm exhausted and frustrated.... tired from the chaos of too many people and squeezing in too many brunch/ lunch/coffee/drinks/dinner dates. I also rely on people to chauffeur me around because I usually fly.
So I drove up on a Saturday. And when 95N turned into a parking lot outside Connecticut, the landscape brought back memories and I started to get really excited. I spent most of the traffic jam chatting on the phone with people I cared about but hadn't focused on in a while.
The best part was that I arrived with no schedule. Just a vague idea of who I wanted to spend the Fourth with. And instead of rushing around like a crazed woman, I relished the chunks of time with people I'd lost touch with - like my grandparents, my brothers, my mom and dad, cousins, and friends from high school.
The weather was perfect. And I was treated like a princess. My parents were also on vacation so dad grilled everyday while I lounged on a swing, cool beneath an enormous leaf canopy. Or went to the beach with mom and my bro. No sharks last week while I was there.
And on the one day it rained, I dragged my mom to the RISD Museum of Art. I couldn't believe she'd never been there (their house is a 15 minute drive away). Her favorite part was the Egyptian exhibit with the sarcophagus and mummy.
For the Fourth, I headed to Newport with my baby brother. We hung out at a party where I met up with people I hadn't seen in a eons (well... a decade, but it certainly felt like well over a lifetime ago).
Time passed at a different pace. I felt like each day lasted a week "DC-time". I spent the week in isolation. My parents don't subscribe to a paper, so I gave up on figuring out what was going on in the world after making a few attempts to find and buy (and read) the Providence Journal and watch CNN.
I didn't touch a computer for 9 days and never suffered the effects of internet withdrawal .
After a blissful week, I packed up the little silver Ford Escort and started my drive home at 5:00 a.m. on a Sunday to avoid the holiday traffic. I pulled into the city at noon and time immediately reverted to the DC schedule.
I didn't have an opportunity to do or see everyone that I had planned to. But the full week was just right - a few more days and it may have ruined the entire experience. It was enough time to whet my appetite for the area and make me miss it, but not enough for annoying behavior and true colors to make an ugly appearance.... the ideal illusion.
The question of the week was, "So, when are you moving back?" Knowing how depressed the economy is up there, coupled with the rise in housing prices and the *local* nature of life (most conversations include the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, Bruins and stories based on colorful local personalities), my answer to that question is an emphatic "Never."
But just this once, it was nice for me to experience the possibility of a different, slower path.