Sometime this weekend I need to get out of the house, shovel more snow, and pick up a few groceries. But the opportunity to be lazy is so rare. For the last l5 months or so I have been practicing in two locations - 3 hours apart. I see clients in my lovely small town in the Shenandoah Valley on Mondays through Wednesdays and then, when the darlings stay with their father on Thursday & Friday nights, I travel to Washington D.C. and see clients in Georgetown through Saturday mornings. I lead a double life, and most the time feel that I get the best of both worlds. Living in such a relaxed, scenic place is terrific for mothering, and I've loved the opportunities of the city, both personally and professionally.
But this past weekend the challenges of my chosen lifestyle were manifest when the whole region was hit by a blizzard. I was in DC. Friday afternoon. Had a lovely lunch with my friend ADG overlooking the water in Old Town, Alexandria. Talked about marketing my business (his specialty) and adoring our daughters (a specialty for us both.) Went back to the office, saw a few clients, and emerged to find the snow fall beginning; oblivious to how much was predicted. After dinner and some Christmas shopping (helping an ex-boyfriend find a lovely gift for his new girlfriend, among other things,) and leaving my auto parked in the garage where I work, I took a taxi to the apartment where I occasionally stay, with roommates, up Wisconsin Avenue. I slept a restless sleep and awoke to find snow pushing in the tiny cracks of the windows of the basement apartment and the National Cathedral across the street looking as if it were in a giant snow globe. I readied myself for work, and lugging my suitcase behind me, went out in the foot or so of snow, planning to catch the bus or a cab to work. No such luck - almost no-one was out. The busses did not seem to be running.
Finally, in desperation, I hitchhiked. With a policeman. I got to ride in the front! I arrived at the office, which is in quite the dissaray and full of fumes from the carpet replacement and painting scheduled for the slower holiday season. Except I treat a lot of grief and trauma, and the holidays are often my most in-demand times. And a number of my clients are from much more northerly locations, and the weather was not the big deal to them that it seemed to be to most of DC. So I worked, looking out periodically at the Whitehurst Freeway - barren, with hardly a treadmark, the Potomac beyond, barely visible through the fog and swirling snow. When I left hours later, not in such the hurry that I'd been in the morning, I figured I'd be able to catch a cab, or a bus, right? I mean this is the nation's capital. Driving my own vehicle was absolutely out of the question. For one thing, new tires were scheduled for Tuesday, to replace the old that had logged 40,000 miles in a year and a half . Two, my car is not much bigger than the accumulating snow drifts, and three, I have spent most of my life in the deep South, driving in ice is not in my repertoir. I waited for awhile beneath the Whitehurst, hoping for a cab, watching people actually skiing down Wisconsin. Again, I resorted to hitchhiking. This time with a couple in a Landrover, a lawyer who works down the street and a teacher. They told me they could only get me to the Foggy Bottom Metro. Sure that I could get somewhere from there, I bought my farecard and descended into the depths, only to find mass hysteria (ok, most people were relatively calm; there were just a lot of us) and a metro system that was no longer running above ground. if 24 hours before someone had told me I would hitchhike in the District (twice), walk down the middle of K St. pulling my suitcase, and that I'd see people skiing down Wisconsin, I'd have thought the work had finally pushed me over the edge.
Sometime in Foggy Bottom or Rosslyn or Metro Center I spoke on the phone to friend from lunch the day before, ADG, who’d found himself in a similar predicament, but with his nine year old daughter in tow and his cell phone running out of battery. He advised we meet at Union Station where we could at least find food and clean bathrooms. After a fun dinner, forgetting our predicament with cocktails, and enjoying the stories of dad’s and daughter’s Verizon Center Rockettes show, ADG performed some kind of Christmas Miracle, hiring a gypsy taxi/SUV to take us 8 miles, for $100. It took about an hour to get to Old Town, I think, and into ADG’s lovely, warm, and cozy home. I watched a Christmas movie, Elf with a little girl who is now one of the few children I find nearly as wonderful and precious as my own. I slept in her Hello Kitty bed and woke the next morning to grits and sausage. Nothing else could make a southern girl feel quite as at home.
Alas, the roads were somewhat clear, but the garage in Georgetown was closed – locked, and I was happy to spend the afternoon sledding at the George Washington Masonic Memorial with ADG and his delightful child. I wiped out a few times, hurtling down the massive hill, and realized I wasn’t as young as I was feeling. I was snowed in for a second night and taken out for Texas Chili in Old Town, which I’m sure did not make me the most pleasant house-guest. I was quite happy for the chance to relax away from my own chores and responsibilities, especially since over the phone, I heard my two offspring were engaged in quite the winter fun with their father at their Grammy’s farm, and I’d taken a liking to the Hello Kitty bed.
Monday came, and my brief escape from reality ended. I made the drive back to the Valley and then the real work began to get myself – and my belongings INTO my home. By nightfall, all the Christmas gifts were in and under the tree, and I was snuggling with my own babies – all six of them – two cats, two dogs, and two little girls. More to come on the pets in upcoming posts.
For now I must moderate MG's & EG's board game playing. Four year old EG is "reading" the rules. "Rule number one: The youngest player goes first. Rule number one (again): My sister is not allowed to win. Rule number one: Cheating is o.k. . . .MG is not reacting with patience.