Thursday: Everyone arrived in waves, except for P's parents who are there for two weeks. Between the ten of us, we came from London, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florence, and two different flights from Venice. (They are some of the first-time fliers in the past few weeks.) The car rental place was disorganized and understaffed. Their walkie-talkies weren't working properly and the car return machine was broken. They assigned us to the same car as another family, who generously yielded to us and our two wheelchairs; lovely people. We accumulated in the bar over drinks, then went to bed early, jet-lagged.
Friday: We killed our appetite with brunch at The Original Pancake House (mmm, crepes), before C. and I abandoned the group for lunch with darkling_dreams and revengel. C. and darkling_dreams hadn't seen each other in seven years! We chatted over lunch - only a token meal for those of us who'd effectively killed our appetites not two hours earlier - and then wandered. We saw the German Prime Minister and her procession of vehicles; the zero milestone marker for D.C.; and distant views of the White House, the Washington Monument, the Capitol building, and various Smithsonian museums. It was effectively C.'s first time seeing the city. In the evening, we dabbled in Restaurant Week at Ristorante Tosca; C.'s butternut squash gnocchi were memorably melt-in-my-mouth.
*** Saturday ***: Saturday was why we were all there, why we had a small family reunion in D.C., why my grandmother who was in a car crash last summer flew for the first time since, why P's parents came over from Italy on their first-ever air plane flight, and why C. and I went on yet another trip: my sister got married!
M+P have know each other almost as long as C. and I have. They worked out their relationship across continents, living in Florence and visiting in Massachusetts. They were students in St. Louis where P learned fluent English as an ESL student, and then moved to D.C. a few years ago. P is now nearly done with his BA degree.
So that's why most of us gathered in a hair salon on Saturday morning to have our hair done, why we gathered in the transient glow of afternoon luminousness in the eastern halls of the National Gallery for a photo shoot, and why, around 4 pm, we crowded into the basement offices of one of Arlington, VA's non-religious celebrants for a brief (but effective!) wedding service. It was a small, fairly informal affair, and nicely done.
My sister's digicam took a decent video, C. photographed, and I ended up on last-minute ring duty. It was a whole lot of fun having my hair up, never having had it professional done before. M. was very nicely dressed in a cocktail party-fun white dress with irridescent sequins. We went back to their place for champagne and our last Christmas, before heading out into the sharpness of the ferociously gusty evening for dinner. Dinner was lavish and decadent: a seven course tasting menu at one of D.C.'s top restaurants, 2941, about which I will write more soon.
Sunday: We slept in, had late sandwiches at Cosí, and then drove around the Mall, pausing at various highlights, including the fairly-new WW2 memorial. The day was chill and the wind persistent. None of us were dressed warmly enough for our extended wanderings around the FDR Memorial, which includes a relief designed by Leonard Baskin, under whom my mother studied printmaking at Smith. The day flew by. Our flight back to London left around 10 pm, with plenty of spare seats to stretch out in.
Travel lets me indulge in one particular decadence: fiction reading. My attention is scattered when I travel, and fluffy fiction is one of the few things which will hold it. I read Terry Pratchett's Thud! (Pleasant, some novelty, ultimately a TP book) and Linnea Sinclair's An Accidental Goddess (Easy reading, decent SF, a very upbeat book). Also, I've now finally seen Best in Show, a charming movie long recommended to me.
We touched down smoothly through the clear London morning air and dozed on the underground. After the travel insanity of the past few months, I'm never going anywhere ever again - well, at least for a little while.