Last week was our second in the Washington, D.C. area and we learned a valuable lesson:
Staying at least two weeks in one place is awesome.
We were less rushed and we had the luxury of going back more than once to visit people and places we loved. Staying put an extra week gave us the freedom to make time for pool days. We’re in the Philadelphia area now and have decided we’ll stay put in this campground just inside the New Jersey border for another two weeks as well, and from here on out we’ll probably take things much more slowly. The more slowly we move in life, the more time we seem to have for happiness.
Happiness Highlights: Washington DC Week 2
This picture was actually taken the first week in town at the lovely Kimberly’s house. We hung out at her house and swam for hours, taking short breaks to eat and drink. It was so glorious and the moment we got home Emma began asking when we could go back. When Kimberly invited us back this week, we couldn’t grab our suits fast enough.
One of the things I miss the most on this family trip is time with my girlfriends. I love my husband and kids, but I also need time with girlfriends. It was so good to get that spot filled up this week, and it was an important reminder that the people are just as important as the places.
If you had seen this pair of women on the streets of Washington, D.C., or wandering the halls of the National Portrait Gallery together, you might not assume that they would have much in common, but Barbara and I share similar souls. I‘ve been inspired by her for years. In fact, she was one of the people that inspired me to take this trip. We share a love of travel and a passion for writing about what we see and learn from the world around us. She gets me.
Although we’ve only met in person once before, she met me with a warm embrace outside the Verizon Center in Chinatown. We didn’t do much catching up, but went immediately to the gushing and the commiserating about the challenges of relearning old life lessons in new lives. When we were hugging goodbye, I heard her tell my husband that I had been encouraging of her in her travel writing career. I have so much admiration for Barbara that it was odd to hear her talk about getting anything from me; it made me want to believe her when she told me I was good enough to be published in print.
This week was a clear reminder for me that happiness comes, in part, from being near good women.
We left Barbara to tour the many monuments of Washington, D.C. We visited the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I was predictably moved at each of these locations, and unexpectedly moved to tears at the Vietnam Wall. I don’t know how a place commemorating soldiers who died in a war I’m too young to remember could touch my soul so deeply, but it did. According to Twitter and Facebook, this isn’t an unusual reaction at all.
What you don’t hear much about is a place called Signers’ Island. It sits just off Constitution Avenue between the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the World War II Memorial, a small manmade island accessed by a wood footbridge. The signature of each signer of the Declaration of Independence is engraved into large stones set in a semi-circle beneath the shade of small trees. It appears to be almost an afterthought amid the massive granite and marble monuments, but it was perhaps the most important place I visited in the DC area.
Their signatures are engraved in gold.
Those 56 men whose names live permanently in stone risked everything, their very lives, by putting their names in ink on paper more than two centuries ago. They weren’t just ensuring a byline on a popular piece of political writing, they were sealing their fates. What we see today as the brave start of a nation was, in fact, an act of treason for which every single man could have been hung.
The memorial to their heroism didn’t bring me to tears. I was, instead, move to silent awe and reverence. I was encouraged. I was hopeful. I was left wondering what I would put my name to and for what I would risk my life.