It is the small, quiet moments in life that truly call out to my poetic soul. The quiet and chill of an early morning run, an undercurrent of vibrant excitement caught in the trill of the birds. The silence that comes (every once in awhile!) out in the fields, the summer sun setting, the dirt deep and dark underneath my hands. And last week, I found that quiet as I sat upon the banks of the Potomac, in milky, early Spring sun. The boats slipped by quietly, I could see away and off into Maryland across the shore; and life was beautiful.
For Spring Break, I traveled to the Washington, DC area to visit friends and explore a bit of the East coast. I grew up dreaming of boarding school on the East coast, my dreamy little head filled with images of school uniforms and dormitories, curled up with a book of the same subject in a patch of sunlight in our roomy, white farmhouse. As I grew up, that dream faded into the background, and I found myself in school way down in Dallas, TX, just about one of the least romantic places I could think of. So, when I got the opportunity to spend a week on the East coast for break, I jumped on the chance.
My absolute favorite day was the one spent in Alexandria, Virginia, just off the blue line of the Metro. I headed out in the morning, bought my metro pass, and navigated my way down into the depths of the metro station. There was something so freeing about taking the metro by myself. And yet, standing on the platform and waiting for the train in my deep green pea coat and tall blacks boots, I felt so very far away from home. The rush and bustle of the metro and the city excite me, but also makes me recess farther into myself, my iPod in my ears and the far away look in my eyes that I recently learned to adopt. And so, it was with a small sigh of relief that I exited the metro at King Street Station, and headed down historic King Street in old Town Alexandria. immediately, I was in love.
The street was lined with coffee shops, boutiques, and restaurants. It was as if the town knew me, my likes and dislikes, a simple girl from Wisconsin with an avid love of all things Francais.
(I actually did end up going into this one, and was promptly frightened out by the saleswoman who told me that you weren’t allowed to touch the clothing in the store except by the hangers and had a genuine witch’s cackle. You can’t win them all, I suppose.)
I grabbed lunch at this little French bistro, filled to the brim with breads and cheeses, and headed down to the river, swinging my baguette sandwich by my hand. After lunch, I wandered into the side streets, house hunting. Since I had fallen in love with the town, I needed to find a place to live other than the cafes. There are shutters on almost every house in the town, and mysterious, hidden gardens behind curved gates, colored red, green, and blue. This house was a little too small:
My friends and I agreed: this is a little more my size:
I’ll admit that I was a little worried that the real owners of the house might come out and ask me what I was doing posing on their front steps so we smiled quickly. The house was absolutely lovely, as was the town. I could see myself there, taking early morning runs next to the river, finding a private high school to teach at, and coming home to a (small) apartment with green shutters on the windows.
But, the Midwestern, Slattery girl in me knows that she would and could also be completely content in a house more like this, filled with family and love.
I peeked into a courtyard in Alexandria and found this gem. And I was back home in an instant. No matter how far you go, you’re never really far from home. My feet will always be bare and dirty, I’ll always defend raw milk, and I’ll always love the country, where one can breath and live and be.