Meanwhile…

Random assessment of things I’ve noticed since leaving W2 and visiting the DC Metro area:

1. It takes a hellishly long time to get out of the eastern half of Washington State, as if a stubborn forcefield is slowing us down, some kind of invisible quicksand we’ve found ourselves in. No, maybe it’s more like when you were a kid at the beach and you stood in the surf and sunk a quarter inch further into the sand with each crested wave. And then thinking that walking out of it when you were buried up to mid-calf would still be easy, but surprisingly wasn’t. It’s kind of like that.

 

Cute and fresh pumpkin

Cute and fresh pumpkin

2. Being away for 8 weeks and coming back isn’t really like returning after 8 years, but enough has changed to make me feel like I’ve lost track of the goings on here. New construction, new coffeeshop (Peregrine has replaced the thieving Murky Coffee on 7th SE), new headlines about people I don’t remember.

3. I’m getting good at rushing through the introductions so I can find out how everyone REALLY is.

4. Space is so much tighter here than in the west, but for this Easterner, tight space = comforting, and loose space = lonesome. I am trying to rewire my brain, but it’s challenging (see #1 for description of challenging).

5. I really miss my friends. I am trying not to see Walla Walla as a space in which I lack friends, income, the joys of a good job, the feeling of being successful and attached to the larger world, but without any friends, income, or job, this is difficult. Lea said to me yesterday that the universe gently suggests to us to take a break when we need one, and when we ignore the gentle suggestions, it pretty much forces us to take that break. I don’t disagree with her. I’m going to do my best to insert a structure into my day, but to give my knee the rehabilitation that it needs, get into my writing whether I’m any good at it or not, be there for Susanne as she adjusts to her new work environment, and see where all of that takes me. Being back in DC for a time has been good so far at helping me see how much stress I’ve lived with while I’ve lived here the past 11 years, and to see that W2 might really be a way to get some decompression from all of that.

6. Getting such decompression requires that I adjust my values from where they’ve been — focus more on family and relationships, and less on the tropes of DC success, which haven’t actually made me happy.

7. I love trees. Driving under canopies, driving through stocky rolling hills knowing I’m never more than 20 miles from a river, lake, or ocean. Hearing crickets at night. I want to find some terrain near where we now live that I can identify with. And I want to find new sounds that are native to W2, or that will make me feel like I’ve come home after a trip away.

8. I love watching Susanne get really into a conversation with someone. She sometimes holds back in the beginning, listening and making her judgments, and then several minutes in she starts the back and forth volley of ideas. I wonder if that’s how she plays tennis.

 

Eastern Market building

Eastern Market building

9. People outside DC really don’t understand the comraderie between people who work together to make things happen here. How “mavericks” don’t necessarily make things better, and how “outsiders” need to spend so much time getting to know people here — becoming insiders, essentially — that they don’t actually change the fundamental way the system works. I wish we’d all stop pretending that people who know how to make law and enact policy are bad people be definition. They’re people who are good at their jobs, and there’s nothing wrong with effectively governing a nation.

10. I really wish I’d have gotten to be here for the next inaugural walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. Maybe I’ll watch it like a football game that you mute so you don’t have to hear the insipid reporting on the play by play.

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