I'm back in Washington DC for a work event, but managed to sneak away this evening to have dinner with a wonderful old friend in one of our old haunts. Cleveland Park, up Connecticut Avenue from the Boston University building where I lived in the fall of 2002 when I was in graduate school and an intern for the WashingtonPost.com.
He picked me up and drove through the District, up 18th Street through Adams Morgan, and it was as if the five and a half years in between had never happened, only back then he drove a White Volkeswagen Golf. The same bars. The same restaurants. Madam's Organ, Tom Tom, the jumbo slices of pizza... The same crowds of 25-year old girls. The same Ethiopian place that always seemed on the verge of closing, still going strong... in that "on the verge of closing" way.
We drove back to Connecticut Ave. over Rock Creek Park and up through Woodly Park, my old neighborhood. Same restaurants. Chipotle. The two Indian places... Maybe one or two had turned over in all that time, and I was amazed.
Even when we got up to Cleveland Park, most of it was still the same. In fact, what stood out was what was different. The Pizzaria Uno was some low-budget burger joint. The expensive Italian restaurant we picked at random because it had outside seating (and ridiculously bad service) was new, I think. But Atomic Billiards, where we'd spent many a night drinking cheap beers and battling it out in the pool hall? Still there.
This is something you don't really get in New York in the same way. Sometimes, if I go a few weeks between visiting my sister on the Upper East Side, the entire neighborhood is turned over. Penang is a diner. The diner is now called Vynl, and some souvenir shop is a new Pinkberry (yum! addiction! not as bad as "House" though...) There's a transience almost in the way things come and go in New York City. Even things that we considered staples sometimes disappear overnight, never to be seen again, or sometimes to re-open three doors down with the same tables but slightly different.
Being back in the District was like falling into a time warp, back to a time when I could drink til three and still go to work in the morning at the Capitol building and be fine.
When I thought I was in love with someone who turned out to be well... wasted space.
And when I got to photograph George W. Bush sign the order from Congress authorizing him to go to war with Iraq.
When the DC Sniper had us all terrified that we would be randomly shot walking anywhere we went.
When while photographing the 30th anniversary of the Vietnam Memorial in the rain, my camera bag spontaneously combusted. (Yes. I caught fire in a rain storm. Batteries are not toys.)
I felt young and old at the same time, and just found myself smiling and watching the lights as we drove back to my hotel, wondering where all that time had gone.