Six days — six days — from right now, I’ll be back in Chicago. It has been such a long, long, long, long and incredible trip. God, I’ve loved living in Washington, DC. It carried me so far and I loved where we went. My darling, a short list of what I’ll miss the most.
– The scent of my tenth-floor apartment: fresh paint, trees, French perfume, clean air.
– The drive to Ronald Reagan National Airport from my building. The taxi takes me the length of Rock Creek Parkway and it’s like driving through the countryside, right there in the city.
– The macaroons of consequence at Firehook Bakery. Baseball-sized, dipped in dark chocolate. With a cup of black coffee, my favorite breakfast.
– How when you turn a corner or approach a park, another bronze or marble memorial greets you and you appreciate the artists who carved the art, the humans who carved the country, and time that carves the rest.
– Mr. Lumbibi, my favorite of the Kennedy Warren front desk staff. He always asks me where I’m off to when he sees me lugging suitcases. John’s usually on the night shift.
– The view of the Klingle Valley outside my window. Cue tears. That’s one’s gonna hurt.
– The opportunity to get closer to Elle, to Carissa, to Carla, the gorgeous girls I met at the DC Modern Quilt Guild and never spent enough time with while I was here.
– The National Gallery.
– Le Diplomat, the perfect French Bistro: I went on three different dates there and the Lyonnaise salad is the best I’ve ever had, especially with a glass (fine: two) of Charles Hiedsieck Brut Reserve NV.
– The Mid-Atlantic weather. I am going back to Chicago at the worst time possible, weather-wise. Great, Fons. Very nice.
– Dropping my mail through the mail chute. It goes all the way to the lobby! I love that!
– Telling people, “I live in Washington, D.C.” It always sounded amazing. And it was.
The quilters of Washington, D.C. are making me feel so at home. I had dim sum with Jan last week; she’s a dynamo at work and fearless in the sewing studio and now she’s invited me to a Burns Supper! You gotta google that! And she doesn’t even know I’m Scottish! I cannot wait for this and will give a full report!
This week, I had my second blind date: I met fabulous quilter Carissa. We had tapas, threw back a few sidecars, dished about life, and went to a show. Carissa is very smart, very beautiful, and confessed to me that when she read about my rat problem, she died inside because she once had a rat problem, too. I had second thoughts about leaving the old place; I thought maybe I had been a weenie, that I should’ve just gone on the road for a few weeks and made the management company deal with it before I paid rent. The tale Carissa told me on Tuesday night wiped every molecule of doubt that I had or will ever have about getting the [beep] out of that rental.
Carissa told me that they moved into this house in Dupont Circle years ago. And they started hearing scratching in the walls. She told me that my description of the smell in my former home (“almost sweet” and “sewage-y”) was hard to read because it was dead on and she’d never forget it. Over a few months, the smell and the scratching had stopped being sorta weird and had become Serious Problems. Exterminators were called in. A hole was chopped in the wall. Traps. Estimates.
WARNING: What I’m about to tell you is true and it is so revolting and horrible, you might not be able to handle it. You will probably scream, so make sure that’s not going to scare anyone in the room, especially if they are at a hot stove or putting together a model airplane.
One night, Carissa was up with her newborn baby. She heard splashing. Splashing in the bathroom. Carissa got up, holding sweet little Milo in her arms and, confused as a person would be, hearing splashing in the bathroom in the middle of the night, she went to the bathroom and turned on the light.
There was a rat in the toilet. The rat was in the toilet because it had crawled up through the sewage pipes and was now in the toilet, attempting to claw its way to freedom. I assume “freedom” would have meant Carissa’s bathroom floor.
We were in a taxi when Carissa told me this and I had my mittens over my mouth going, “Ugghgghhh! Ughhhghhhh!” and rocking the way a severely autistic person might rock for comfort. The taxi guy was alarmed. I repeated over and over, “No. No. No. Carissa. No. No, Carissa, no. No.” My new friend told me they did not stay in that house very long after that.
And, real quick, because I can’t believe this happened today, a second rat story:
I turned a street corner and saw one of those two-story inflatable rats that union workers use when they’re striking. The huge rat was outside a hotel and the union guys were blowing whistles and shouting; cars were honking in solidarity. I had to meet someone in the lobby so I crossed the picket line (is that what I did?) and the man working the front door opened the door for me.
“That rat’s for you guys, eh?” I asked. It was possible it was a construction job the union was protesting, not the hotel itself.
“Is that what that is?” the guy said.
I blinked. “Sorry, what?”
“It’s a rat, okay. I thought it was a bear.”
I looked at him. He appeared to be a fully-functioning person. He had a job, obviously. I did not understand, however, how he could spend his entire day in the shadow of the biggest rat in the city (we hope) and though he had to actually step over the creature’s inflated pink tail to go hail taxis for people, he did not register the species of this animal. Forget the cultural context he should know by his age; did the six-foot wide pair of rodent teeth not give this away??
There will be no more rat stories on PaperGirl for a long, long time. This is my promise.