why i love D.C.

Yesterday N. picked me up at 2:30 p.m. and I presented him with three choices:

1) a National Geographic exhibit at the Meridian International Center (in a building that’s on the National Historic Register)

2) The International Spy Museum

3) Mount Vernon and the new whiskey distillery

Overly ambitious, we shot for two out of three — the photography exhibit and Mount Vernon. The exhibit was in an 18th century mansion designed by architect John Russell Pope with high ceilings and sparkling chandeliers. Along the walls hung photographs of penguins, polar bears and seals on ice caps and in the waters in the Arctic. We wandered through it in a half hour and then we hopped in the car and drove on the G.W. Parkway along the Potomac River out to George Washington’s house.

As we walked up to buy tickets, a large map of the grounds said the distillery was closed. It was so cold I could see my breath and I couldn’t feel my fingers. Also, with less than a half hour to get through Mount Vernon, we agreed it wasn’t worth the $12 each.

So we hurried back in the car (I love the butt-warmers in N.’s car) and retraced the road along the river, past the National airport, past the hundreds of white birds resting on the icy banks of the river, past the back of the Lincoln Monument, across the Key bridge and up to the National Cathedral. We tiptoed inside and stood near the back with a handful of tourists as a service wrapped up. The sun was setting and reflecting soft red and orange hues through the stained glass windows on the white stone high above me. The organ recital started at 5 p.m. and we walked along the right side of the cathedral, pausing at Woodrow Wilson’s tomb.

Next, we drove to Pizza Paradiso in Georgetown. A bar downstairs called a Birreria opened last year and it feels like a hideout with low ceilings and a fireplace. We sat on stools at the bar and split a margarita pizza topped with prosciutto and each tried hearty Belgium beers. The bartender with a red goatee and a camouflage painters hat schooled us on the history of beer. Then, warmed and satisfied, we saw “Juno” at the Georgetown theater. I had already seen it, but it made me laugh aloud all over again.

I’ve lived in D.C. for three years, and although I tire of some things, I never tire of the culture and history. I still haven’t seen Ford’s Theater (temporarily closed); The Air and Space Museum at Dulles; the Arboretum on New York Ave.; the National Archives. I still haven’t seen the Supreme Court deliberate over cases. I still haven’t been in more embassies than the Chilean and Argentinian ones. I have a quite a long list of D.C. things to see and do.

My constant battle, however, is making sure I take the time to explore and appreciate as often as I can while I can. Of course, good company (ku-dos to you N.) can certainly help with the quest.

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