Autumn rainy down days are perfect for getting back in touch with the area right outside of DC. There is always parking close to where you want to go and the crowds are never too bad. I grabbed my friend IT and we headed to Old Town Alexandria in search of brunch, little shops, etc.
Saturdays in Old Town feature a Farmers’ Market in the square in front of City Hall. Today the specialty seemed to be apples, boxes and boxes of Honeycrisps, Jonagolds, Red and Yellow Delicious, and Fujis were covered by big blue tents. Gingerly picking our way around puddles, we chose the biggest ones we could find. I’m completely inspired to bake something autumnal – a pie or a crisp or something.
IT and I are always in search of new places to eat, so we followed an overheard tip in the marketplace and made our way to Bittersweet, a cafe/bakery that serves a small buffet. The scrambled eggs had sat too long in their warming pan and had the texture of cool rubber, but the potato hash was incredibly good, and I had the most amazing twisted muffin with powdered sugar. The coffee was hot, and we got a seat by the window where conversation turned to our youthful obsession with Dawson’s Creek and the purity of the emotions of high schoolers.
It seemed to both of us that the emotions felt in high school are the absolute extremes of everything. Love is all-encompassing, hate is stronger, depression is deeper, and victory is completely thrilling. Everything – good and bad – breaks your heart. Most people go on to outgrow the extremity of these emotions, finding a measure of peace with a settled life. Steady jobs, marriage, kids, saving and spending, voting, church on Sundays, travel in retirement. These are the things that keep society functioning. But there are those of us who are unable, try as we might, to shake the emotional extremes and settle into normalcy. For us, constant change is necessary. Creative outlets are the only way of life. Travel – wide and extensive – is a must. Perhaps we won’t have the same things as others, and life may be a bit messier and even meandering with the various paths we take. But we don’t really have a choice. Something in us will always be driving us.
After brunch we wandered around Old Town, strolling along vibrantly colored streets, popping into little shops, buying stationery, looking at clothes. And then we headed to Georgetown. Years ago, a random boy took me to the Keith Lipert Gallery to look at jewelry, and the pieces impressed me so much that I’ve always wanted to go back. It wasn’t as fabulous as I remembered, but there are so many beautiful and desirable things on the mirrored shelves and the black velvet trays. We stopped in at Barnes and Noble trying to find guidebooks to plan a trip to Montevideo, but there was a definite lack of material for Uruguay.
The autumn leaves created a soft path underfoot, yellow and red and gold. We carefully selected a range of colors, shapes, and types to bring home, just like we were in fourth grade again with an art project due the next day. It was fun, though I’m not entirely sure what will become of these gorgeous mementos.
It was a lovely day. Autumn, in all its thrilling vividness, is here. And the demand of my newly busy schedule makes the rare down days absolutely precious.