Shadow mornings, the tile of my garden apartment cool and dark underfoot as I’d pad over to the chipping white desk beneath the window that overlooked the postage-stamp-sized yard that belonged to the French woman upstairs.
So early, I’d need my lamp on, and my best friend in the room next door would sleep soundlessly on for a good two hours before rousing for work.
Alone in Georgetown, straining to make out Ezra Pound as the sun rose, sending splinters of gold across the floor. An aubade to poetry itself.
Today I stand outside the row home on R Street, and I can barely remember a single line of The Cantos that once defined me, and the old French lady has passed away, but I feel myself at 24, and crisply.
Running on the cobblestones after Elizabeth, before she was diagnosed, before she left. We were sixteen — cheekbones and crushes — and the flick of her Visitation lanyard around her finger a practiced cool I imitated in my own childhood bedroom later, alone.
It was June dusk, and we were high on Thomas Sweet ice cream and end-of-year awards, practically skipping out of our bodies with joy. Singing our youth.
Today I walk those same cobblestones, and I have forgotten so much of Elizabeth that I cannot piece together the shorthand from the letters that I’ve kept. What was it that she’d whispered to me in the backyard of that row house party we attended on Prospect Street with those boys from Deerfield Academy? We had doubled over with laughter, gasping for air. I remember the shape of us, the sheen of her hair in the floodlights, the cicadas and beer pong tables and tattered furniture in the front room, the urgency of her voice: “Jennie.” I can’t resurrect the words, but I return to myself at 18.
Rounding the corner of Q Street, nearly-late for my nannying gig. Two tiny children and top-end appliances (“the Miele washing machine is silent,” the mom had told me) in a narrow, overstuffed row house. Sticky-hot afternoons in Volta Park, and a wagon to tote the children home in, and testing my yearling authoritative voice. “I’m going to count to three –“
Today I pass Volta Park and don’t know that I’d recognize the children as they are now — in college? But I inhabit myself at 20, their now-age. Life somehow doubling back on itself.
Walking down 32nd Street, past my second apartment there, the one infested with camel crickets. The day I returned from Charlottesville with a diamond ring on my finger, shaky with joy, the word “fiance” as thick as peanut butter in my mouth, and my best friends waited inside the dim foyer and invited all the details to spill out between us.
The internship at Tudor Place when I was 15: stocking the gift shop, my eyes saucer-like with responsibility. The photo shoot outside Dumbarton Oaks in my fledgling blogger days, teetering on heels and the start of something new and formless. The boot camps in Montrose Park. The crushed side view mirror on P Street, my first drudging encounter with insurance paperwork. The weddings at Trinity, Panis Angelicus, red rug and incense. Milkshakes at Sugar’s, back when it was Sugar’s: an off-campus privilege for the older Visitation girls, who wore their kilts short and their polos bleached. The midnight run-in with former high school classmates on Prospect — “you are cute, Jen Nurmi!” — while I dashed down the street in a denim mini skirt and tall boots, having shed my awkward teenage years while at the University of Virginia. Wild Turkey Rare Breed in a too-full dorm room, a boy named Adam, “Moonlight in Vermont.” Waiting in line for bathrooms at The Tombs. My first mentor at the academic press at Georgetown (“I want you to know I think you are special,” she told me, at Patisserie Poupon). My oral examination before graduating: stammers and semiotics. Running up and down the Exorcist Stairs. Running to my mother as she left The Opportunity Shop off P. Running across 34th Street with Landon to avoid the August rain.
Running into myself at every cross-street.
I can map my life across this part of Washington, each corner bronzed with patina particular to me. I came into the world in Sibley Hospital in 1984, but much of who I am was born just down the way in Georgetown. So many versions of myself intersect here, and last week, I stood on the cobblestones and saw my long shadow and thought: here, too, is another.
+More on my grad school years on R Street — writing, endings, growing up.
+If you’re looking for a statement sneaker that’s different from Golden Goose / Veja / Adidas / New Balance, consider Autry. I’ve been seeing this brand pop up here and there but not yet ubiquitous. Into this funky pink pair but this would be chic for fall. Cute with shorts like this or a dress like this now, and jeans like this later.
+Gorgeous new rug from Serena and Lily.
+These terry sweatshirts are in my cart for the kids!
+Love the heather pink of this sports bra and shorts set. And speaking of fitness, I can’t stop buying all the Vuori things (mini review of my first order from them here). Love (!) this tank that came in the mail last week — such a cute boxy fit — and now might go back for these shorts.
+More summer fitness favorites.
+OK, this lunchbox situation for adults is very chic. Who knew packing salad/lunch for office could be so stylish?
+This little jeweled bag is SO fun and unexpected for an evening look, or even just pairing with a crisp white shirt and jeans. Looks like something you might buy from Miu Miu.
+I don’t own this exact set, but I love my snapware glass storage containers. They are so heavy duty, do not cloud/warp, and seem to last forever.
+Perfect end of summer everyday dress.
+Lots of wedding guest dress requests recently. If you’re thinking ahead to fall, this one is insanely chic in its gorgeous restraint and simplicity.
+I’ve been wanting to try Saucony’s endorphin running shoe forever…have heard THE BEST things about this style.