The Best of My Trip to D.C.: 11 Things I Did While in My Old City

Thursday, May 30, 2019

I don't usually miss my life in Washington, D.C. Honestly, it feels like a long time ago - & it was. This fall will mark five years since I moved back to Ohio, & I've only been back to D.C. a handful of times since then. The last time was in February 2018 for a funeral, so it's not like I got in a lot of good visiting. 

I was excited, then, to be asked to staff a conference at my old office (which is an affiliate of the organization for which I currently work). Working a conference is no joke; I knew I wouldn't have any time to explore, see friends, or do anything but work. To get in some extra time in the city, I extended by trip by stay for two & a half extra days. I worked through two, then took a comp day on Friday & did some adventuring with my friend Arielle, who took off work to hang.

In some ways, I hate visiting places where I used to live. There are so many people I want to see, so many things I'd like to do - & I feel like I botched this trip, in particular. Because I worked on my extra days in town, I didn't have much free time, & there were tons of friends I didn't get to see - but still, I was exhausted. I came home from the trip sick as a dog, my body having basically given up on me, & I slept through most of Memorial Day weekend. Ugh.


Of course, I did get to do some great things while I was in the city - even on such a tight schedule. In addition to the amazing meal I ate at Rose's Luxury, which got its own post, I got in quite a lot of adventures big & small. Here are a few of them.

1. Took a picture with Nancy Pelosi 

The Speaker of the House was one of the keynote speakers at my work conference, & although there wasn't much time for niceties behind-the-scenes (she's a busy lady!), she very kindly posed for a photo with our event staff.

There I am, all the way on the right - & there she is, of course, right in the middle, wearing all-white in honor of the 100th anniversary of House passage of the 19th amendment, which eventually granted (white) women the right to vote.

Photo copyright Ralph Alswang 

2. Saw the Obamas

OK, FINE, I didn't actually see our royal family, because if I had, you'd sure as hell have seen it all over my social media by now. I did, however, go to the National Portrait Gallery to see portraits of both Barack & Michelle, & I was not disappointed.

President Obama's bright, vibrant portrait was done by Brooklyn-based visual artist Kehinde Wiley, who also painted an incredible portrait of LL Cool J that now hangs in the same room as Michelle's. The painting of Michelle was done by Amy Sherald, depicting the former First Lady in a Milly gown.

I also stopped in to see my favorite president, Dwight Eisenhower (only my fave because I did my big second-grade report on him)

3. Stumbled upon a repro rally at the Supreme Court

This was my most D.C. moment since... well, at least since I lived in D.C.: My coworker Paige & I were on Capitol Hill to get social media content for our work conference. While there, we stopped by a reproductive choice rally hosted by Planned Parenthood (donate, donate, donate) in front of the Supreme Court, & someone handed us free signs.

As we were leaving the rally, we ran into Rep. Dr. Kim Schrier - who’d spoken at our event that morning! We introduced ourselves, thanked her for her eloquence & passion, & let her go on her congressional way. Later, we passed the signs off to two girls who were arriving at the rally - but first asked them to take a photo of us.

As we posed, Paige felt an arm around her shoulder & a voice asked, “Is it OK if I’m in this?” We were being photobombed by the congresswoman!

4. Explored the Library of Congress

When our day on the Hill ended, my coworker Chris & I decided to do a little wandering. We had to Google whether the Library of Congress is open to the public, but when we learned that the answer is "yes," we headed that way. How had I never been to the Library of Congress before?! It's breathtaking. 

It was also, unfortunately, full of teens in MAGA hats & Trump shirts, so we didn't stay for long. We checked out the Guttenberg Bible (um, amazing), marveled at the architecture (equally amazing), & posed for photos outside (yes, that's Chris dabbing) before heading out - & away from that crowd. No, thanks, 'Merica.

5. Visited the Newseum before it closes

I'm so, so disappointed to hear that the Newseum is closing at the end of the year. As a writer & a one-time college journalist, I've long loved this engaging, interactive museum that preserves history, honors freedom of speech, & pays homage to the much-maligned art of journalism.

Especially powerful were the 9/11 tribute, the Stonewall exhibit, &, as a Kent State grad, seeing a real-life newspaper cover following the May 4th shootings. Of course, the Newseum building has one of the best rooftop views in the city, so we made sure to make one last use of that photo opp.

6. Met one of my favorite blog friends IRL

Speaking of rooftops, Ashleigh of My Happy Journeigh took me to Crimson, a cafe/diner/whiskey bar trifecta in Chinatown. We've been following one another for I-can't-remember-how-long now, & though we'd tried once to hang out over the holidays (because she actually hails from the CLE), we'd still yet to meet in person.

There were a lot of people I wanted to see while I was in town, including plenty of friends I already know in person, yet I prioritized seeing Ashleigh because sometimes just just have a feeling about somebody, you know? It felt like we'd been friends for years!

7. Stayed in an adorable AirBnB in my old neighborhood

I spent my first three nights in town in the Chinatown hotel where the conference took place, but for the three nights afterward, I crashed in a cute AirBnB - someone's actual apartment - at 17th & Massachusetts.

It was almost the exact layout of my last D.C. apartment, & located just a few blocks away from my office, so it felt really wonderfully comfortable & familiar. Almost like home. And it didn't hurt that it was, like, $65 a night.

8. Co-worked with  my old work-from-home buddy

In 2014, my friend Emily Goodstein quit her full-time job & struck out on her own. I still remember how terrified she was, including the budget she put herself on & obsessively stuck to, lest the money not come through. When we co-worked from the Starbucks on P St. (of blessed memory), I watched her hustle  to make things work.

While visiting last week, I got to see how all her hustle has paid off: These days, she's the CEO & founder of Greater Good Strategy! We got to co-work like old times, though this time our coffice of choice was Colony Club, right around the corner from the place she now owns with her fianc√©, Ron. Colony Club's kale Parmesan scones are to die for, lemme tellya - but the company was even better. She even did a mini photoshoot with/for me.

9. Experienced the glory that is Call Your Mother

I've long seen photos on Emily's Instagram account of the goodies from Call Your Mother Deli, so I was thrilled to try it for lunch - with her, of course! This little lunch spot, which describes itself as "Jew-ish, is decorated in pink, white, & teal, with lots of fun touches - & a really unusual menu.

I went with The Craig D., a plain bagel loaded with strawberry cream cheese (Emily advised me to go light on it, which was the right call), fresh strawberries, crisp bacon, thin-sliced jalapenos, & crumbled potato chips. Sounds super-weird, right? It was. And it was also one of the best bagel sandwiches I've ever had. Like, I may try to recreate it at home. (Cleveland Bagel Co., can y'all work on this one for me?)

10. Checked out the murals in Blagden Alley

On our way back to Arielle's place, we walked through Blagden Alley, which is decorated with all kinds of really amazing street art. Even though my Cleveland street art Instagram account has been out of commission during the cold winter months, I've been thinking about starting it back up again - & regardless, my love of street art continues.

I especially loved these big, rainbow doors spelling out LOVE. Of course, when I posted one of my photos in front of them to Instagram, I hit the location tag & saw that every Instagrammer in the history of visiting Blagden Alley has taken the exact same photo - but hey, it doesn't make this art any less cool. And that Trump piece!

11. Tried a draft latte from La Colombe 

The reason we went through Blagden Alley in the first place was to get to La Colombe, a coffee place that apparently exists in every city except Cleveland? Did you know about this place? It wasn't in D.C. when I lived there, though, so it's brand new to me.

And look, you know I love coffee shops, generally, but the reason this one makes the "Best of My Trip to D.C." list is that they have lattes on tap, & they taste like a freakin' milkshake. I put a liiiittle too much simple syrup in mine, but it was still amazing: smooth, creamy, dessert-like, & caffeinated, which I needed before heading into a 10pm flight.

And there you have it! Whew, that was kind of a lot, especially given that most of it happened within the span of two & a half days. I think I made the most of my time, wouldn't you say?

D.C. was the first city I ever called home, & it'll always have a piece of my heart. Though I may not know the new restaurants or neighborhoods or other cool stuff, I know this city in my soul, the way you know friends you were close with in childhood, even when you drift apart. D.C. is within me - & while I love life in Cleveland & don't miss living in the District, I sure do love going back to visit.

I hope D.C. always feels like a second home to me - & I suspect it always will. 

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