Tuesday, February 4, 2014

october backlogs: my 25th

I'm 25. 
That took me way too long to type. I think I have arthritis.
(#OldLadyCaity was my official birthday hashtag).

I actually turned 25 on October 5th, 2013, and I was lucky enough to have a pair of people who love me like crazy and wanted to decorate and celebrate all week long!
I love birthdays, and this was an extra special one -- not only was it the last birthday of our Virginia years, but it was 25. Twenty-five. Whaaaaat.
So coming home to the apartment all glammed up by Dusty and my best friend from home, Becky, made it all the merrier!

Becky had visited once before, but it was October of our first year here and there wasn't much to show her yet! We had only lived here for a few months, so we hadn't chosen any favorite restaurants, hadn't discovered any of our favorite little gems - so it was really exciting to have a week full of birthday festivities and Virginia explorations with my BFF in tow.

We went to Arosto for lunch on one of her first days here, but regrettably, she was attacked by stink beetles outside and I think she vowed never to return.
Luckily we had other plans to restore her faith in Virginia food!

First on the docket was to take her to Jimmy's on the James.
If you've read this blog ever in your life, you know this is pretty much our go-to for any guests that come to town!
It's jazzy, snazzy, and completely unique to our little town.

Becky and Dusty are a great duo. Bests.

She and I are also a great duo. He and I are also a great duo.
We're a great trio because we're made of great duos.

(Funnily enough, Jimmy's ended up being extraordinarily busy and we had to wait a really long time for our food -- plus our waiter was a bit distracted and overbooked.
We were really striking out here!
The bright side is that they comped some of our meal, so we were able to forgive the wait and the slow service. It's still on my list of favorites.)

I love a great story, and Bex and I are definitely that.
All the fun things feel better when she's around. She's the friend that has lasted from birth until now, through and despite of the rocky middles and long distances.
She's the best and the weirdest.

side note: this grass was irrigation grass...and it proved fatal to us all.
the stench once we got back into the car was overwhelming. we rolled down all the windows, only to realize it was our shoes that were creating the fetid odor -- oh, and also my hands, due to my ridiculous foot-grabbing poses.

We had such great plans for this weekend.
But, in keeping pace with the weird mishaps with our Lynchburg meal experiences, most of them were pretty much blown apart by the fact that we had a super random heat wave right dab in the middle of our plans, as well as a government shutdown.
Did I mention the great plans involved going to Washington D.C.?

I think even the daftest American knows that a government shutdown means everything you'd wanna see in DC is a no go. We went anyway, because food and stuff.

Oyamel, sweet Oyamel, and their tasty brussels sprouts.
In my opinion, you haven't truly lived until you've shocked yourself by learning you actually love brussel sprouts. It's a secret only the best of people know.

We met up with (and stayed with) our friends Jeremiah and Christina, who were expecting their first baby in the next few months! (He is now born and healthy and so darn cute!)
They are to blame/thank for all of the restaurants we adore in DC. Oyamel is one of the places they took us when we came our first year of law school with our friends Chris and Heather.

We were so excited to be able to meet with them again and eat there, completing the full circle of freshly made guacamole and great conversation. 
They were willing to meet us for a late reservation since we had to drive the four hours into the city after work, and we were so happy they did! They're the best.

After dinner, we walked back to the subway station to head back to the apartment.
It was late, and we couldn't wait to hit the hay in preparation for a long day of fun and sightseeing!

Becky and I don't hug.
It just doesn't happen. We don't even put our arms around each other when we take pictures.
Usually, if we try, something awkward happens, like we drop something, or an accidental butt graze occurs. We figured out at some point during our best friendship that everyone is happier if we keep the physical affection to a minimum. Meaning, zero. Well, okay, not zero. We're very good high-fivers.
We're both very comfortable in our own spaces. We can be affectionate with other people (I've found I'm really only affectionate with the people that ask for it/need it), but not with each other. 
Our last full hug was in May of 2012. True story.
We both were so squeamish afterwards that we vowed, never again.

So while we waited for the subway in DC, I hug-attacked her.

It's a very effective weapon, and I will use it in the future as need be.

The next day, we were in full sightseeing mode! It was my actual birthday.
Even though we were really wishing for a miraculous cool fall day, what we got was an imitation of summer. We were hot all day long but we braved it for the sake of patriotism.

We've rented bikes pretty much every time we've come to DC because it's the perfect way to see the city. I was determined to wear a dress on my birthday, one that my mom had sent me for the occasion, but in retrospect dressy bike-riding is quite a difficult sport.

I did a lot of standing and coasting and readjusting. But mission accomplished.

Of course the biggest deterrent to our sightseeing was the government shutdown.
We were about to see a lot of crazy things, but didn't really know that at the beginning.
The first things to stand out to us were a few monuments that were still open because of rangers that were showing up for work unpaid. They were volunteering their entire day to allow visitors and patriots to visit those monuments, which was a wonderful thing. 

Never have I ever seen such an empty, peaceful Lincoln monument.

It felt very zombie apocalypse-ish. 

There were still people wandering around, though, enjoying the sunshine and looking at Lincoln from afar.
Plus, both the Vietnam and the Korean memorials were open by the rangers, and they are located on either side of the Lincoln monument, so there was traffic around and between those two spots.

This is when the crazy stuff started to happen.

I was watching the bikes while Dusty and Becky checked out the Korean War Memorial -- she had never been, so all of this was new to her. I volunteered to stay with the bikes so I could just stand still for a minute in the shade.
As I was there, I heard some commotion and turned around to see crowds of people around Lincoln. There seemed to be some buzz of activity, and then suddenly, people were rushing up the steps!
It was a tourist stampede!

I didn't know it at the time, but apparently Michelle Bachmann had gone to the barricades and moved them. It was a big deal. The ranger standing at the entrance to the Korean War Memorial radioed her superior, I'm assuming, telling them that there were people passing through the barricades.
I knew this moment wouldn't last long so I signaled over to Dusty and Becky to hurry up.

People were so excited that this was happening. It was a big down with the system moment for all these strangers. There were people shouting Michelle's name, excitedly talking about how they saw her, how she had (supposedly) opened the barricades because there was a little boy whose birthday wish was to see Lincoln.
I stayed with the bikes again so that Becky and Dusty could run up there (I know it seems like I was just totally lazy and didn't want to run up those burning steps in the middle of the day, but really, yes, I was just totally lazy.)

It was kind of a crazy thing to witness.
Before long some policemen on horses rode up, and everything kind of simmered down, and people dispersed. The whole thing happened in maybe 20-30 minutes, and then it was over and it was as if it had never happened.

But then we rode away on our bikes and in true birthday-miracle fashion, WE SAW A FOX right in front of our faces.

Which, admittedly, was way more exciting to me than the barricade ambush.
Does that make me a terrible American?

Our next stop was the WWII memorial. 
Our path was blocked by a crowd surrounding an older man on a bike, holding two huge American flags in each hand.
He made a long and impassioned speech about America, what it should look like, and how horrendous and unspeakable it was that the government shutdown was forbidding patriots and veterans from their memorials. It was quite the spectacle, and everyone was silent as he was yelling out.
It was just one thing after another, and we just propped our bikes up with our mouths hanging open. This is officially a crazy day. 

We managed to make our way through the crowds and into the memorial, which had a ranger standing at the entrance where the barricades were opened just enough for people to pass through.
As we walked up toward him, he looked straight at us and said, "The park is closed today. Yes, the park is closed today." As people were walking right by him and into the monument.
It was quite comical, and it made me like him a lot.

As we finished looking around, we went back the way we came and observed the crowds still lingering. It was then that we saw buses of WWII veterans unloading their precious passengers, and the crowd of people erupted into cheers, waving American flags and shaking their hands.
Some of the men were in wheelchairs, some were using walkers -- but all of them were touched and invigorated by the show of love and support from these people.

It's very hard to explain the buzz in the air, the feeling of unity and respect and history and the many lives around us.

Being a young person that has no context for what war is really like, I found myself trying to imagine these men as young people as well -- what it must have been like, what they must have been like, all those years ago.
It made me cry a little to see so many kids there, shaking the hands of these men.

The best part was definitely when one of the veterans spotted Becky, and immediately came over and gave her a hug, exclaiming that she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.
Did I mention Becky isn't the craziest about hugging?

He had his arm around her the entire time we were talking with him, and it was hilarious. 
We were able to snap a picture with him, and it definitely went into our book of weirdest and best memories of the week.

The rest of the day was bike riding and silliness.

We went all the way to Good Stuff Eatery for lunch, because it's the best of things.
I've written about it before so I won't go crazy in detail, but if you ever find yourself floating into the doors of supreme burger heaven, grab yourself some thyme and rosemary fries, a toasted marshmallow shake, and the Prez Obama burger (unless you don't like horseradish sauce, which is crazy talk -- then I suggest Spike's Sunnyside).
I'm not gonna lie, by the time we got there we were sweaty and hangry. It felt good to sit and eat and just chillax, and let our hangry selves calm down a bit with burger in our bellies.

After lunch we leisurely made our way over to the nearby Starbucks for a drink and some more air conditioning. Becky was meeting a friend there who worked in DC at the time (we both knew her from Casa Grande days), so we just enjoyed the cool stools and coffee smells while we waited for her.

Then it was off to more sightseeing! (and happier attitudes, now that we were cool and full).

There's definitely a reason why we've been to DC more than anywhere else in Virginia since moving out here.
There's something really amazing about being in this city -- obviously the historical aspect of it provides a kind of surreal viewing experience, as well as the tremendous amount of art. 
But there's something else, too - maybe it's the layout, maybe it's the bike-riding, maybe it's the rhythm of the city itself. But sometimes you just look around you and feel you're looking at something really beautiful.

Our next stop was Georgetown, because we had reservations for dinner!
In retrospect, we probably should have eaten lunch really early because we had an early dinner reservation. 
But even though we were still full from our burger binge, we rode our trusty bikes along the water and hoped the burned calories would be enough to allow us to eat our hearts out at Filomena
Because if nothing else, birthdays are for an outlandish amount of calories. 

Filomena is one of my very favorite places in the DC area.
We first went when Dusty's parents were in town, the summer of 2012.
It's the gaudiest, most fabulous Italian restaurant in all the land.
Lucky for us, they were completely decked out for Halloween (when we were here that July of 2012, they were all decked out for the 4th). 

In the front window, there's a windowed room where a few lovely ladies are hand-rolling ravioli.
As you walk in the front door, you wave at them on the right, then continue down the steps into the dark and delightful restaurant.
Or shall I say, the dark and creepy (in the best way possible) restaurant.

We snatched a table at the back of the restaurant, and prepared ourselves for carb-loading.
Isn't this place fantastic?

Naturally, we ordered some ravioli because you can't not when those lovely ladies above us were hand-rolling them so lovingly and expertly. It would be a slap in the face to their art craft. To not order ravioli would be like not having ice cream in an ice cream shop. How crazy can you be? Grab a cone!

For my entree I had the Tortelloni Di Michele, which I would highly recommend to cure any disease of the tastebuds. It's not medically certified or anything, but you can tell them I sent you.

They won't know who I am, but at least I'll feel special.

They also brought out some flasks of some kind of ungodly substance (note: sambuca and amoretto) that you were supposed to drink as a sort of dessert swig -- I can tell you, it cleared my sinuses and I couldn't order a cappuccino fast enough.
Let's just say I wasn't made for liqueur.

After dinner, we meandered around Georgetown for a while longer, finally deciding that we had to visit Georgetown Cupcakes to complete our food tour of the day.

As always, the line was out the door and up the street, so we grabbed a menu and faithfully stood in line. Since the sun was down, it wasn't a big deal to wait outdoors!

We once did a cupcake wars outing in Georgetown with our friends, pitting Georgetown Cupcake against Sprinkles -- Sprinkles actually won, but when in Georgetown, eat like the Georgetownians do (plus there's a Sprinkles in Arizona, so you've gotta try new things). 

this pumpkin cupcake and i became instantly entangled in a great love affair.

Happy birthday to me!

BUT -- the day wasn't over yet.
We decided to head to a local theater to see the movie Austenland, which was only playing in select theaters (a total cinematic crime).
Becky had seen it a few times in Phoenix, and was dying to see it with me. I was equally eager to see it, so despite Dusty's protests (which quickly died down in the throes of our girlish fervor, and the fact that it was still my birthday) we headed off to the shopping center to see the movie!

Best decision ever. 

There were hardly any other patrons in the cushy theater seats, but everyone that was there was laughing their little tushies off. It was hilarious. Dusty was laughing, too, I might add -- a lot. And we had a blast.
Definitely one of my favorite movies of the year! And so underrated for its cleverness.
It comes out on DVD February 11th, and it's gonna be really hard for me to resist buying 100 copies to give out to everyone I know, as a gesture of true human decency.
If you haven't seen it, please do.

Sunday was a day for traveling back to Lynchburg, and relaxing.
Once we got back home, we were able to unwind. Becky left really early Monday morning, so we decided Sunday would be a chill day. We drove around a little bit downtown to take some pictures that afternoon.
One of the things on our Lynchburg bucket list was to take some pictures in front of a giant red LOVE sign there, so we took turns taking some BFF pictures of Becky and I, and some of Dusty and I as well.

We also just took some time to goof off.

We met our friends Colin and Victoria for dinner at Delicia's, which is one of our favorite local spots.
We sat out on the balcony and enjoyed the warm evening. I just loved being around some of my favorite friends. It was a very happy table to me.
We also had some great conversation -- at one point Colin told us the entire plot story of Breaking Bad.
Story time with Colin!
It was actually great, because none of us had really wanted to take the time to watch/invest ourselves in such a dramatic show like that -- so now we feel included, without all the stress and heartache. Win win.

Becky headed out the next morning, which always makes me immeasurably sad. Having that empty guest room glaring at me, all quiet and lonely.
But we had such a great time, and it was a gem of a trip, even with all the heat and the hiccups. Maybe that made it even better.
(Although I could have gone without the bike-riding, dress-wearing thigh sores).

I like to stretch out birthday celebrations as long as humanly possible, so we continued to celebrate that week, which included going to The Crown for wine parfaits. Tradition is tradition, after all.

2011 / 2013: first and last birthday parfaits in VA!

Colin and Victoria met us there for coffee and dessert, and I suppose I officially accepted it: I'm 25. 

It was an amazing birthday month, with so many more fun things to come.
It's currently February, so obviously I've been so busy living my 25th year that I haven't been able to keep up with my weekly blogs -- well, lookout, because here they come!
All the backlogs of 2013, and then some. I've gotta catch up so I can fully document our last few months in Virginia. Sigh.
What a glorious year to be alive!

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