Below is my first guest report and it is not about a book but about a city.
I received this in the mail, snail mail that is, but we all like to get a personal letter now and then. I have never told any of you, but I lived in America for a couple of years in the 90s after University. I lived in Washington, D.C. My sister, Elizabeth,and her friend from South Carolina, Suzanna had moved there and they had made some friends so I had a place to stay.
Suzanna is a lovely girl from South Carolina, who went to that state school, my sister had been a foreign exchange student and they hit it off brilliantly and have been lifelong friends.
Suzanna married a guy named Arbus Boustabout, who is brilliant and an engineer. They live in South Carolina with their 3 kids. (Now, mostly grown. )
They will help me report from the Americas (Arbus travels all over for business, so he will make all kinds of comments.) Actually, he a total horses arse and full of it. I can’t stand him most of the time, but he does read a lot of books. (I am kidding, he is a good lad.)
So enough with that, below is a letter from Suzanna about Washington DC.
I have lived in my home state of South Carolina for my entire life save for a few years in Washington, DC in the early 90s. Marriage, kids and the law have take up my time. Not ever really looking back.
This past Labor Day, I went back to Washington, DC, where we met. Well, we had met but not really had been good friends. (It took martinis and cigarettes and hours of talking and going to the 930 club and maybe more martinis to get there. Do you get headaches if you drink too much? I just can’t do it anymore. I wake in a fog.)
I do, but that doesn’t stop me. I am no quitter.
Anyway, we landed at Washington National. (I think the airport has another name but I can’t stop thinking of it as Washington National and how it has a Metro attached. That is so convenient and just so cool I can’t get over it.)
In 1992, I remember the first time we buzzed through Virginia and it was winter and it was early and how I loved it. The low slung buildings, the green spaces, the hints and then the broad announcement of the United States government.
I was so excited to start working! I was excited about being on my own, figuring things out.
Seeing things, being in a city, with taxis and trains and subways. It was just so different, paying for things, being alone. It was really, it was just fun.
I remember being with Elizabeth and staying at her friend Richard’s Apartment until we could move into our apartment.
I remember Georgetown from Dupont Circle. I walked! It was entirely too far, but I didn’t care and I really wanted to learn the landscape. I walked and walked, well I think I took a cab to my interview, but after my interview, I walked back. It was dusk and cold and quiet and… I was so excited.
Back then, we lived near Dupont Circle and we would find restaurants and bars along 18th toward Adams Morgan. We would meet people and have impromptu parties.
It was a great way to become an adult. We had issues of course, jobs would be bad or oh my god, never enough money or too much work. Or we found we didn’t like what we could do for a living. It was …. I guess it was becoming an adult and DC was a great place to do that.
As then and now, I find the city beautiful. The people are nice and the streets with a grid and the stupid circles and the taxis with the zones and now with uber.
Did you know you could kayak on the Potomac! I didn’t know that. My lord that was great. We saw a deer! We ate at restaurants we couldn’t have dreamed of affording so many years ago and you know what? They were worth it.
So in my first life, single and alone. I learned about a bigger city by traveling on the metro and walking and having friends to share a drink with. And, of course, falling for Arbus. That was weird. Like a dream really.
And that is attached to Washington DC.
Now so many years later, I have been married for a long time. I have raised beautiful kids and I look at retirement closer to me than further away.
And yet, I got on that subway, excuse me, the metro and the smells and the movement and the sounds transported me back. And I loved it! Back to this small but big city on the coast on the water With lots of smart people.
We stayed with friends who live in a beautiful house along the side of Rock Creek park (which is amazing.) They will fuss at me but the neighborhood reminds me of Adams Morgan in the early 90s. This is an example of the more things change….Dupont Circle was cool and hip in the early 90s where Adams Morgan was more get down and dirty. More entrepreneurial and now i find Adams Morgan hip and happening and the new Adams Morgan is elsewhere maybe in the neighborhood we stayed in maybe somewhere else, but the city evolves but evolves back onto itself. That is at least what I saw and felt.
Anyway, the energy the people and the fun are all there. Just in a few different places. My friend has a hole in the wall restaurant where he eats that is walking distance from his house. When I was here the first time we had some restaurant with Fox in its name and I had a great burger there. It was like a city passage. A go to restaurant and here it was 30 years later, my friend has a little go to restaurant.
I remember a mexican restaurant on the way from Dupont Circle going toward Adams Morgan that had great mexican food and margaritas. We would spend hours there on a Friday Afternoon.
I forgot I am supposed to be reporting on ….Washington DC.
That’s not really it. I am reporting on a special place of both my youth and my now. How i just love to see a place that is special. How I love to move forward and grow and then look back and see how sometimes it does work out.
I fell in love with freedom in Washington DC , I fell in love with cities in Washington DC and I actually fell in love with my husband and my friends in Washington DC.
Washington DC is not a place to me. It is a beginning, it is emotions and it is a very special place.
I hope you remember it the way I do.
Tell Elizabeth hello for me.
Love from your friend,
Thank you for that Suzanna. I have fond memories of my time in the states. When my daughter goes to graduate school, I will have more reason to come and visit and South Carolina will be my first stop.