“3×5” Time: NYC and DC (Part II)

I took a few more pictures in DC. Something about the city immediately caused me to slow down, from the moment I walked out of Union Station into the sunshine to the last day when we took our time driving around Georgetown and wandering through Anthropologies’ many dreams of color and coziness.

Our favorite picture--we looked at them all and agreed.

Our favorite picture–we looked at them all and agreed.

I also took more pictures because I had made this trip not just to see any friend, but my best friend since the fourth grade (we met in third grade but disliked each other then, go figure). Reminders from both our moms (also friends) had us taking the camera out to capture a few of this relaxing trip’s particularly happy moments.

It’s hard for me to write about how wonderful this trip was for me as an artist, a writer, a friend, and a young woman trying to find where she belongs and longs to be in this world. But, for those very reasons, I also want to attempt to capture it.

SUN!!!!

SUN!!!!

Most importantly, I wrote a play. True, it was an adaptation of a short story I had been thinking on and sketching out for a few weeks. But when I finished writing the last scene on Thursday midday, it came in at 51 pages long. Before the trip I had joked that I would write during the day while my friend was at work. She joked that I could go to the Library of Congress to do so. But once I was in DC and realized that with my new city know-how and navigation confidence (which returned after its brief failing in NYC) I could get a readers card and I could actually write in the Library of Congress . . . then I just had to. By the time I reached the main reading room on Tuesday, my first full day in DC, I was tired. I thought that I didn’t have much left in me. Instead I sat down and wrote in one of the world’s most famous libraries (a book isn’t a book without the Library of Congress stamp, right? well, at least in the USA . . .) with no music to inspire and motivate except the silent whispers of the Muses, philosophers, poets, historians, and scientists depicted in the statues and mosaics above me. I wrote half the the play that afternoon, another 7 pages in a coffeehouse on Wednesday, and the rest of the script by 1 pm on Thursday.

Watching puppies play in the park on my walk from the cafe to the apartment. Bliss.

Watching puppies play in the park on my walk from the cafe to the apartment. Bliss.

I didn’t have to “earn” my vacation. I tried not to place too much pressure on this trip. Besides helping my friend get settled and make a home out of her her gorgeous, well-deserved new apartment, I had no fixed plans besides enjoying her company. I let myself buy treats at coffee shops, go wandering around the National Mall and Eastern Market, and generally enjoy the sunshine and the new atmosphere of DC. I didn’t feel any need to go back and gawk at the museums that I had begged to see from age 7-10 and finally convinced my parents to take me to at age 11. I felt proud to walk around the Capitol grounds and past the Supreme Court that had inspired me so much when I studied it during my junior and senior years of high school. But I didn’t feel any need to research and find out all the facts. It was all about feeling the sun on my face, smelling the fresh tea and espresso in the cafes I visited, and being present.

IMG_2753It was a week of simple pleasures like making dinner together, going grocery shopping, hanging pictures, and laughing over glasses of wine. When I write all this, it sounds so simple and I wonder why I cannot seem to hold that while I’m here in Toronto. I realize part of it is that it takes time. Part of it is the stress of everyday life that magically disappears on vacation, even for an anxious and sensitive person like me. And part of it is that I was with my best friend and that no matter what happens, she gets me and I get her in a priceless way that cannot be duplicated or faked. Not without years of phone calls, text messages, emails, Skype sessions, good ole snail mail, sleepovers and afternoon/after school play dates.

Eating out was super fun, too.

Eating out was super fun, too.

It hurts to think about leaving DC and coming back to Toronto again. I don’t like to complain in public, but the cold is getting to me, the separation from my family and friends, and the expectations of graduate school. I’m not backing down and I’m not giving up, but I am thinking of how I can treat myself to weeks like my DC vacation during more of the year. I must have been doing something different, something right to unlock such creative productivity and complete bliss in myself. It’s still there; I carry its potential with me always.

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About austinausten88

Playwright in love with Classic films, afternoon tea, and Noel Coward. She recently graduated from Rice University. In the fall, she will be exchanging her English major undergraduate status for that of Theatre & Performance Studies graduate student.
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