True story - in the winter of 2004, Max and I were both living in Washington D.C., but we hadn't yet met, and wouldn't actually meet until three-and-a-half years later when we both were living in California's Bay Area. Crazy how life works, right? I imagine our time in D.C. to be like the movie Serendipity - maybe we were in the same line at the same coffee shop, maybe we rode the same metro train, maybe we dined tables away from each other at the same restaurant... we'll never know!
Max and I were both twenty-one years old that winter; I was in D.C. interning for the Department of Education as part of an undergrad exchange program, and Max (having graduated early) had a proper job at another government agency. Looking back, we both agree that we weren't ready to meet then. Truth be told, Max would have probably turned the opposite direction and ran if he had seen me with my rowdy intern group coming down the street, ha! Though I sometimes lament that it took so long for me to find Max, I'm also so thankful for those three-and-a-half years that followed D.C. They were years of growing up and becoming independent, and I wouldn't trade them for anything. I finished undergrad, started and completed a masters program, lived on my own, became a school teacher, and spent my weekends loving the Bay Area and all it had to offer (wine tasting, farmers' markets, Giants baseball, 49ers football, gorgeous trails to run on, the list goes on). I crossed items off my grand to-do list: hiking at Yellowstone, running a half marathon, seeing a game at Fenway Park, walking through Times Square, taking snowboard lessons in Colorado, volunteering at children's camps, seeing Mount Rushmore, road tripping across the country... they were years of fun and adventure, years of being entirely independent. So, as it happened, by the time I met my future husband, I was ready. I was confident in who I was, in what I believed, and what I was looking for in a partner. I even made a written list- this was just months before we met - and Max of course covered every item on the list. How's that for visualization? But that's a story for another day.
Back to D.C. Last week, Max and I found ourselves both in the city (at the same time) for the first time since 2004, now married and with our three-year-old son in tow. We made the trip to celebrate Max's sister's graduation from Johns Hopkins with Masters degrees in both Business and Public Health (because, you know, #underachiever). This trip to our nation's capital would rack up flights number forty-one and forty-two for our frequent little flyer. He's seriously a flying pro. TSA pre-check helps immensely in getting him through security (Max and I both have it and child companions get the perks, too). If you are a traveler (with or without a child in tow) and do not have this status, I highly recommend getting it. I'm all about getting to feel special :) As for the actual flying part, Parker is pretty content just observing the world around him. As a treat on this flight, we let him watch part of When We Left Earth, a documentary about the NASA missions (his choice - he loves astronauts!).
While Max and Parker enjoyed the video, I enjoyed celebrity gossip and my favorite on-the-go snack: a banana with a packet of almond butter. Seriously, those little packs are genius! They are super handy and perfect for the plane.
We were greeted on the other side with chilly weather. Parker was nervous at first about taking the metro and going underground (it does sound a bit strange if you're not used to it, right?), but once we boarded and started riding, he was in love. Like, the metro was one of the highlights of the entire trip in love.
We were greeted at our hotel by the graduate herself!
While in D.C. we hit up the National Zoo...
And I couldn't make a D.C. trip without visiting the gemstone room at the Smithsonian. It was even prettier than I remembered!
Our celebratory dinner that night was at Le Diplomate off Dupont Circle. A french restaurant was perfect for my SIL, who chatted in French with the Uber driver the entire way to the restaurant. She's all sorts of amazing, right?
The next day was graduation! It was so sweet of my SIL to include us in this very special day. We loved being there.
Parker was a trooper, being the perfect little gentleman on the one hour drive to the ceremony, the next hour waiting in our seats, and then the three-and-a-half hour ceremony. Literally 1,000+ names were called. And he sat in the audience like a boss. They had his favorite (soft pretzels) for sale and we snagged some popcorn as well, but really he just observed the stage and happenings, and whispered questions from time to time.
The commencement speaker (a pediatrician from Flint, Michigan, who has been vocal in their water contamination tragedy) gave a phenomenal speech. It was appropriate, I thought, for both the graduates and the audience, plus is was a relative current event which made it even more interesting. Later I told Max I think it might have been the best commencement speaker I've heard in person... and then Max reminded me that we saw Oprah speak at Stanford. And you just can't top Oprah.
Parker got a bit sleepy during the speech, but perked up at the conferring of degrees. He loved listening to the names being called and seeing the graduates walk across the stage and get their diplomas (and he cheered so loudly for his Auntie Mimi that she heard him way down on the stage). Witnessing a graduation ceremony was something completely new for him, and I'm so happy he had this opportunity. We had adults come up to us in amazement afterwards, stating it was a lot for even them to sit through and giving kudos to our sweet little man. For Parker, though, it was entertainment! He wanted to know about Mommy and Daddy and where our degrees were (I said we had ceremonies a long, long time ago) and Parker was especially obsessed with the Ph.D. candidates and their extra puffy regalia. At the end of everything, he said "I wanna be a doctor one day. I want to wear one of those." Since coming home, we have had many pretend ceremonies, and Daddy may or may not have also busted out his Stanford Ph.D. regalia ;)
After the ceremony, Sweet P was all about his Aunt Mimi. He couldn't get enough of her - it was like he totally understood that it was her big day and didn't want to be away from her. Graduating from the number one ranked School of Public Health - it was a big deal :)
Before heading home the next day, we walked around the National Mall area and past the White House (we had talked lots before our trip about the White House and how the presidents all live there).
This sweet guy is nothing but loving! He was a phenomenal traveler this trip, and oh my word how is he getting so big?
Until next time, D.C.!