On Why I Am In Love With The D.C. Metro…

d.c. subway

On Why I Love the D.C. Metro….

I’ve been visiting Washington, D.C. since I was a little girl. My first memories are of staying with my great-aunt and -uncle’s house on Foxhall Road. Their small duplex was a child’s dream, full of dark shadows, secretaries and desks crammed with mysterious papers, receipts, pictures of my parents in their young and innocent days. Uncle Ernest would take me across the street to the Rexall Drugstore, where, three times a week, he would treat his Boston Bull Terrier to a vanilla ice cream cone. They had no children of their own, so Foxie received great bounty. I was enthralled.

Now, of course, these houses, if they have not been replaced by McMansions, are selling for a million dollars. Not the D.C. I grew up with.

Of course, there were grade school, high school field trips – those yellow school buses chartered just for the day, where my main memories are the songs sung on the way home, most notably Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall. These visits soon were followed by Friday and Saturday night jaunts to Georgetown and environs where the drinking age was conveniently set at 18. My now-mature memories of those drives home, New York Avenue to the Baltimore-Washington Expressway, cause me to shudder and breathe a plentitude of gratitude to the universe for getting us home safely.

My boyfriend and I spent a somber November night in 1963 waiting in line with thousands of others to view the casket of President Kennedy at the Capitol. Thousands waited, and the silent grief of a nation was palpable.

And later, Sunday trips to museums, to fancy restaurants, meeting friends who had snared jobs working for Congressmen (for then it was men), jobs and bosses they could, sort-of, be proud of, or at least we didn’t know what we know now.

But jobs and moves took me out of range for a quick trip to D.C. So my memories are of long-ago. Until a few weeks ago – a trip back, just to sight-see and remember.

And, oh, that subway. What a treat to jump on an escalator and be wherever we wanted to be in a matter of moments. (Although I must admit to strong memory of the Season 2 premiere of House of Cards where Zoe Barnes was pushed in front of a moving train at the (thank-you) fictional stop of Cathedral Heights.) Everyone was patient, helpful, as we negotiated buying, and using, our day passes; the cars were on-time, clean, just what you’d like your subway system to be. And, as always, people watching…. I can’t remember the last time I’d seen so many suits.

It was great to see Woodies again, still extant. And Garfinkel’s – at least the building is there. We drank coffee from a bowl. Why is this popular? And visited museums, Union Station, and “discovered” the Eastern Market area. This was a high point of my trip – I loved the area that, for now at least, is on the fringe of gentrification, so that, during the week, we could still be among those residents who’ve made the neighborhood what it is. I’m sure in a few years, they will be displaced. That’s what we do, and I think that we’re all the poorer for it.

We didn’t see all that we wanted to see. I still want to visit my books at the Library of Congress, want to spend time at the National Archives, and always more museums. I’m glad we went. Despite the current political climate, I love this Capital of our nation.


On the Elasticity of Freedom


Girl jumping with rose petals in air

On the Elasticity of Freedom

Last week I spent five days on my own – in my house – just me – and the cats. So, I said to my highly-in-need-of-structure self, this is an opportunity. Throw off those shackles of your “to do” list, be free, do only what you feel like doing, when you feel like doing it, be spontaneous. You can do it!

Now I realize that, since I left the world of paid employment (without a backward glance I might add), I am nothing but free, as I regularly prepare lists and schedules of tasks, errands, and most importantly, writing goals. Write every day the experts say – seat-in-chair. And so, for the most part, I have done this – as my seat is currently in-chair at the Toyota dealership for my car’s annual state inspection. And even on those days that I don’t write, I’m thinking about writing, and/or feeling guilty about not writing.

So, all this is a much too lengthy introduction to my point. I gave myself permission to NOT write, NOT research, and NOT feel guilty about it.

Just how did I fill my time? Naps, a season four House of Cards Netflix binge, lots of foreign and independent films, all the while supine on the sofa, with cats stretched out on various parts of my body.

I admit that being without a schedule, without a list, made me a bit anxious. And, yes, I succumbed. I did write down those things I wanted to do, though I not assign a day, time, or priority code. I told myself that I just wanted those words on paper so that I wouldn’t forget anything. Yes, and I’m sticking to that story.

How free was I, you ask? Well, I even read library books as my fancy chose, throwing caution to the wind about their due dates. I spent time on the sun porch; I straightened closets and junk drawers, and then read some more.

It was a lovely interlude. And as long as I knew it was an interlude, that soon I would be free to resume my rhythm of life, with husband returned, with responsibilities, with meetings, and, yes, even dinners to prepare, that taste of freedom was delicious. But, like a rich Viennese torte, best savored in small amounts.

Another Sunday, http://www.cynthiastrauff.com