Monday, June 27, 2011

Our Life in D.C.: Part 1

Last week's post about Eric's recent visit to Washington, D.C. left me feeling very nostalgic for our time there. We lived there for three years, from August 2005 through August 2008. When I first started this blog in April 2008, we were just finishing up our time in D.C. and were preparing for our new life in New York. In fact, that change in scenery was the very reason for starting this blog in the first place. However, that means that much of our time in D.C. has not been documented. As Eric's return to our former home got me reminiscing about our time there, I felt compelled to do a little more thorough looking back here. I hope you will indulge me as I post a blog series about our life in D.C.! I will take it one year at a time...

Eric and I moved to D.C. in August of 2005, along with our friend Jeff. The three of us found a two-bedroom apartment in Crystal City (Arlington), Virginia, located just a short walk from the Crystal City Metro station. The location was fabulous - not only were we near the Metro, but also the Pentagon City Mall, a Harris Teeter grocery store, tons of restaurants and even a Target just a short drive away. We could see the Pentagon from our rooftop and the Washington Monument from our apartment balcony.

Our building! We lived on the far right side, on the 13th floor (good thing we weren't superstitious!)

Jeff and me in front of our building

The view from our building's rooftop - that flat building in the distance is the Pentagon.

View of the Washington Monument from our apartment balcony

When we actually made the move, we loaded all of our combined belongings onto a truck to be driven by a moving company up to D.C. In the meantime, Jeff, Achilles and I set off for D.C. ourselves in Jeff's car, and we were the first to arrive. We unloaded everything and got unpacked, and Eric joined us a few days later when his dad and stepmom drove him up. Soon we were all getting settled into our new home.

Our living room. That teeny tiny futon under the window was eventually replaced by the second-hand sofa bed we're still using today.

More living room, including the sliding door to our balcony (I often studied out there in the summer)

Dining room


Our bedroom

The "office" side of our bedroom, including my trusty ol' white TV from college! Oh, and Achilles looking quite young.

There was a little bit of a learning curve when we moved to D.C. I learned to do lots more walking to get where I was going, and I was a bit anxious about taking the Metro by myself at first. But, I adjusted quickly and learned to love the convenience of public transportation.

I quickly learned this map, and learned it well.

It was also the first time we were so far away from our families. Of course, we went off to college, but that was only two hours or so from home. This was a much greater distance and I missed my family and friends. We did find the local Gator alumni group and Gator bar quickly, so that at least helped us have a little taste of Florida in our D.C. lives!

Of course, it probably comes as no surprise to you that Eric and I quickly started sightseeing. We had already seen much of the touristy stuff when Eric worked in D.C. one summer during undergrad (and I came to visit), but I was excited to take it all in again. I was just beside myself with excitement about being in such an awesome city. I felt so, so lucky.

Happy to be in D.C.!

At the World War II Memorial

Hanging out with Achilles on our balcony (it's washed out, but you would otherwise be able to see the Washington Monument behind me)

We all started school orientations pretty soon after moving up there - Eric and Jeff were starting law school, and I was starting my forensic psychology Masters program. Before long, classes were under way and we were soon in the swing of things. I made some friends at school, and was excited about my classes. I studied hard and ended up with all As that year (and in grad school altogether, actually). What can I say? I'm one of those nerds who just loves to be in school.

This picture is actually from 2008 (NOT our first year in D.C.), but this is me with my school friends Hillary and Anthony at Cafe Asia, the sushi place right below our school where we often had lunch on class days.

My very first class was a general "Psychology in the Legal System" course, which first really opened my eyes to jury consulting. I had learned about jury consulting in undergrad, but at the time I actually felt it was a rather unethical practice and couldn't believe people did such a thing for a living. In grad school however, I saw it in a new light. I no longer saw it as a unfair way to "stack" a jury, but rather, a great way to apply psychology to the legal system to make sure a defendant gets the fair trial they are entitled to. It was an interesting mental switch that obviously would come into play later in my D.C. years. At the time, I filed that idea away as a potential career path.

My classes mostly took place on the weekends and in the evenings, so I found a job as a receptionist for a property management company in D.C. (just off the Farragut West Metro stop) to fill my time during the week (and, you know, pay the bills). The job paid well, and was a nice change of pace from the hectic world of waiting tables in a sports bar (my previous job in Florida). In fact, my job really just consisted of sitting at a desk and answering the phone when it rang, which was not all too often. In between calls, I was free to do my homework (and later, after Eric proposed, plan my wedding!), which was perfect. On top of all that, I worked with some very nice people. It was a perfect situation.

This photo is actually from Christmas 2006, but this is me with some of my former co-workers: Lance, Lesley, Lexy, Lisa and Peter.

In our personal lives, that year started a great tradition: that of dressing the dog in ridiculous costumes at Halloween and forcing him to sit next to our carved pumpkins. Oh, good times.

Construction man Achilles with our Batman pumpkin

That year, our Halloween pumpkin met an unfortunate demise after its day had passed: a "fall" off our balcony. Oh, boys.

Jeff clearly has some long-standing animosity towards our pumpkin.

That year also marked the first year we didn't return home for Thanksgiving. I actually spent the holiday in Cleveland for my cousin Erin's wedding, but Jeff and Eric stayed in D.C. Eric's mom ordered them a pre-cooked Thanksgiving dinner from one of our local grocery stores, so they feasted on that. Left to their own devices, the turkey carcass met the same fate as the Halloween pumpkin. The unforeseen negative consequence of that was that the bones fell to the grassy area behind the building, where we took Achilles to do his business. I spent months after that having to carefully watch Achilles back there, lest he find himself a turkey bone in the grass and start chomping away.

Jeff and Eric carving their turkey

Fly, turkey, fly!

Our first winter in D.C. required some adjustments. I grew up in Cleveland, so I had experienced snowy winters before, but I was living with two Florida boys so there was definitely some novelty there. Of course, D.C. really didn't get that snowy, but it was still a fun change of pace.

Washington Monument in the winter

Poor, cold FDR sporting a snow hat

January of 2006 is particularly memorable for me, as that is when Eric proposed. On January 19th, when I got home from work, we grabbed some dinner then went out to the National Mall to look at the monuments at night. We ended up sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, which is my favorite. It was there that Eric got down on one knee and asked me to be his bride. I cried, tourists stared, and I resisted putting my gloves back on for as long as I physically could afterwards so I could stare at my new ring. It was romantic and perfect.

Beautiful setting for an engagement, if I do say so myself!

This was not taken on our engagement night, but shortly after. We're standing on the step where Eric proposed.

Self taken photo to show off my new jewelry

Winter finally gave way to spring, which brought our first experience with the incredible cherry blossoms. Those blossoms are a sight like no other.

Cherry blossoms in full bloom

View of the Jefferson Memorial from across the Tidal Basin, through the blossoms

Of course, as we tend to do, we kept ourselves busy and tried to take advantage of our surroundings.

We saw Rent at the Warner Theater

We went to several Cavs v. Wizards playoff games at the Verizon Center

We took the MARC train to Baltimore and caught a game at Camden Yards

Eric surprised me with a trip to the circus, because he knew I had never been!

Patriotic holidays were fantastic in D.C., of course. On our first Memorial Day, we watched the parade and went to the Memorial Day Concert on the Capitol Lawn.

On Constitution Avenue for the Parade

View of the Washington Monument from the Capitol Lawn during the Memorial Day Concert

That summer Eric got a job working for a judge in Ft. Lauderdale, so when summer hit he headed south while I stayed up in D.C. I missed him terribly, but he came back for a surprise visit over Fourth of July weekend. We spent the weekend enjoying the festivities and eating cookout food, but unfortunately, he had to fly back to Florida before the fireworks. I did not want to go out to the Mall to see them by myself, so I watched the reflection of them in a Crystal City building from our balcony.

National Archives looking festive for the Fourth

Random Uncle Sam on the Mall

Back at our proposal spot once again, looking out over the Reflecting Pool at the WWII Memorial and Washington Monument

That July I celebrated my 24th birthday. As a special birthday treat, my sister came to visit me for the first time over my birthday weekend. We had a great time sightseeing, drinking wine, and hitting the town for some nightlife action. It was a great visit!

Ringing in my birthday with some margaritas

By the Potomac at the end of King Street in Old Town Alexandria, one of my favorite places to spend an afternoon

Before I knew it, the summer was drawing to a close. Eric returned to D.C., and we were ready to begin Year Two!


Jessica Renee said...

Aww I love this post!! I'm sure that was an exciting time! :)

KT @ KT's Refinishing School said...

I love this recap post--I heart DC and imagine it would be a wonderful place to live and work! Can't wait for more :)