Monday, July 13, 2009

Maybe this will cure my insomnia...

So this is the second sleepless night I have had in the past few days, and it occurred to me that it would be better to do something at least slightly productive in lieu of the dreaded tossing and turning, why-am-i-not-sleeping routine...

Tomorrow I head back up to Connecticut after my prolonged weekend in DC. I think my lack of sleep is largely in part due to the post-party euphoria that I used to experience so often in college. Like so many day-after epiphanies in the past, I have come to a number of realizations in the past 24 hours.

First, Maryland/DC is amazing. My first onset of glee occurred the moment I stepped onto the Metro escalator to head up the Red Line to Silver Spring. A particularly amicable woman and her son helped me find my way to the station (it is frightening how fast my memory of the city has faded), and we continued chatting on the way to the ticket machines. When I stepped onto the moving staircase, I made the quintessential tourist mistake of standing on the left side, which is where the more precipitate travelers can hurry to the next train. As the woman indicated this unwritten rule, a flood of nostalgia washed over me.

Suddenly, it was four years ago, and I was standing in my cheap, unpaid-intern work clothes en route to the National Archives. I wanted to step into that glorious building, and put my shabby work bag onto the security conveyor belt. I wanted to look at the president's portrait that is displayed on the way to the elevators and see not Bushy, but Barack. I wanted to joke around with the security guards about Dubya. I wanted to take my lunch break at Chipotle and eat my 1200 calorie burrito, and then burn it off at Spinning in the afternoon. I wanted to take a coffee break with Lauren and share the latest crazy roommate stories.

Although my time in the district itself was brief, Maryland brought just as much joy. To begin with, I don't think I can ever recall a get-together that involved my brother, Matt, and my sister-in-law, Sharon, that was not incredible, but this was a particular breath of fresh air. You'd think I would be disgruntled--just recently, I have developed a hip injury that has forestalled my half-marathon training. Walking, however, does not seem to bother me, so I embraced my inner soccer mom and took two nice long strolls over the weekend. At first I thought that it was just the new surroundings that brightened my mood. After all, although I can walk, if I pick up the pace too much, I do feel pain, so when I ate the dust of two old ladies, you'd think I would give up out of frustration.

I realized, though, that not only was it the shady bike path, or the crystal clear stream, but it was the overall cordial nature of the fellow exercisers that made me so happy. In New Jersey and Connecticut, almost everyone seems to avert their eyes from strangers. The hostile nature in Jersey was palpable—particularly due to the fact that I need more than two hands to count the number of times that a motorist has almost killed me.

My weekend bliss was also elevated with the help of Matt, Sharon, and their whole crew. I had met most of their friends earlier—namely at their wedding and numerous other get-togethers. I could not help but think, however, about how much their group of friends resembles the Cornell contingent. They are all so gregarious and kind--going out of their way to make an outsider like me feel welcome. Also, they were so silly and comfortable around each other that it reminded me of those days on Blair Street when Kelly and I would storm up the stairs at 2 am singing our lungs out to Rilo Kiley. Or Doug and me belting the Moldy Peaches. Marissa’s croquet skills. Beaubie-wan-Kenobi…enough said. Giggling in the back row of glee club/chorus rehearsal with Jesse and Doug. And of course, the Key Elements. Stealing trinkets from a frat house with Kajsa, reciting verbatim lines from Best in Show with Cassie. A late night study break with Chris Versfelt to sled down Libe Slope. Alright, I think I need to stop this reminiscence before I begin weeping.

Finally (although I could probably continue until I reach a word limit on this thing), it was great to have a glimpse into the world of home-ownership. Granted, Sharon and Matt poured their hearts, their wallets, and the past two years of weekends into their house, but the end result makes it that much better, doesn’t it? And after renting one crappy apartment after the next on my student/teacher salary, I couldn’t help but feel jealous.

It probably doesn’t help that Pat and I are squeezed into his studio apartment for the summer. Yes, it’s temporary, and yes, it’s amazing that after five years we are finally living together. But the whole concept of sharing 580 square feet in the middle of downtown New Haven is not necessarily idyllic. The best nights are when the New Haven hoochies are out in full adornment Thursday-Saturday nights, and the second the bars close, their screams echo up to our fourth floor window. Yes, I have certainly been a member of that post-last-call mass exodus, but at 25? I can get tired and cranky after that crap. It’s even more fun when someone pukes in the parking garage elevator, or better yet, smashes in my car window in a drug-induced haze.

Of course, I will complain when I move back down to Jersey as well, especially when I have to resume the joy that is long distance dating. Only, I have come to realize that Pat is much more of a city slicker than I will ever be, and I hope that one day I can convince him that the grass is always greener when you actually have a yard. Who knows where I will end up living after the grad school applications are finally finished, but let’s just say this. It had better be at a place where parking is free, where my apartment (maybe one day, a house—dare to dream), is not one of dozens of other units, and where my cats can look out the window and see trees and birds, and not other rooftops.

To be continued?