The last leg of my shine journey found me in Washington, DC. I lived in Washington DC for 7 years (2003-2010), so ending my shine journey in a place that is filled with dear friends and personal landmarks makes sense. I wrote a book in DC. I found a spiritual home in DC. I practiced yoga in DC. The minute I stepped off the train I felt at peace. At ease. New York is shiny in a different way, but DC reminds me that there is a comfort to shine. My DC shine is the sense of place where the heart does not have to wander.
I arrived in DC and was able to tell the cab driver where to take me without using my GPS. I was headed to my friend Aimee’s house. I knew the way. When I arrived, I found the key, sat my luggage down, grabbed the car keys and headed to Politics and Prose to write. I have spent many hours writing at Politics and Prose, and deeply connect with what I describe as the writer’s colony there. (It is not an official writer’s colony, but I imagine that is what a writer’s colony might feel like.) People are actually working writers there. Making a living as a writer is not a pipe dream there. Writers are visible there. Slasher novelists sit next to young adult fiction writers sit next to text book translators. I feel one step closer to who I want to be when I am there. I can touch shine there because I see it. (Perhaps simply being there reminds me of a time when I was at my shiniest?) I walked in the door and the owner of the coffee shop immediately greeted me. We talked about how things had been going in the time since I had left the neighborhood. I was there in the afternoon, so my morning writer friends had already left, but their spirits were definitely in the air. A few familiar faces did smile as I set up my computer. Writing there feels as natural as my heart beat. After a few hours, I packed up and left to pick up my friend Aimee’s son Luca after his computer camp.
My DC rhythm primarily consisted of writing at my favorite spots during the day and dinner with friends in the evening. Tuesday night, Aimee’s significant other Todd made us an amazing crab cake dinner. Wednesday night I had dinner with my writing group friends – a group of the most amazing women I know. Thursday night was dinner with another group of long time friends who I originally met playing in a trivia league at a pub. (I got to meet the newest child to be born to the group.) My final night was dinner with Kyrie and Darin and their almost three year-old son Toby. They are sounding boards and patient ears. I treasure them. Dinnertime in DC was shiny. Really knowing each other is shiny. Sharing in joy and sorrow. Being mad at each other and making up. Those relationships are precious. Being shiny means tending relationships and celebrating those people.
Dinner with my writing group was one of the shiniest moments I experienced on vacation. I took a chance in trying get the group together, and it worked out that every member who was in town was able to come to dinner. Conversation flowed from the minute we sat down. Talk about our families, jobs, plans, news, frustrations, and joys filled the space. We all listened with genuine interest and compassion. A daughter is going off to school. An elderly mother-in-law is in need of more involved care. My transition to Cincinnati was also discussed. It was as if we did not take a breath for three hours. It had been over a year since I had been with this group, but this night felt like I was still in the rhythm of meeting every other week. These women know their shine. They shine beyond measure. Their strength and grace inspire me.
The day before I left I went hiking with my friend Cindy in Great Falls Park. I always found solace in Great Falls Park, and that day was no exception. The sound of the Falls was soothingly powerful. The comfort of the shade cooled the hot day. The breeze washed away my thoughts of uneasiness about heading home. I had told myself I was feeling rejuvenated and ready, but the closer I got to the reality of flying home I became less enthusiastic. To what was I going home? How could I be shiny in my day-to-day life? Is connecting to myself and what matters really possible everyday? What can I do to get closer to my shine when I am away from the places and people I have just fully experienced. On the trail things made sense. I have the right perspective when I am breathing in the sunshine and noticing frogs. I am simply shiny there. I am not sure exactly how this translates to my real world. Maybe these questions are the real world? This is the challenge I carry forward.