Well, we did it.
We made it out the door with goodbyes to hubby and Porter and the porch seemed like the perfect spot for our teary Portland departure.
It was so hard to watch David, Oliver and Porter say their goodbyes– especially with so much uncertainty swirling around us.
But I knew Anita, David’s ex, was on her way to be with David and they would have some really valuable time together.
Anita lives in S.F. and she and David have known each other for 50 years. They were together for a dozen years, co-raised Daniel, their now 37 year old son, and have remained close friends and confidants for all these years.
I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful ex in the picture; she’s loving and kind and wise and knows that entire side of the family so well (she still has holidays with David’s brother and extended family living in the area). She’s a breast cancer survivor and has been a volunteer oncology counselor for thirty years so she was the perfect person to spend time with David during this tumultuous time.
There’s nothing weird or awkward here — just so much love and respect and friendship.
And there’s our mutual affection for wonderful bread. I bought this giant Ken’s Artisan Loaf upon my return and after diving into it together with epic avocado toasts, I insisted that she take some home with her.
Aren’t these two pals cute together?
Knowing that David was well-tended to in our absence, I was able to leave without guilt or worry and really focus on getting Oliver settled.
We had so much to do and see once we got there.
We met his darling roommate Frank from Hilton Head, South Carolina (you have to love a kid who bakes as a stress-reliever and sports farmer’s market temporary tattoos!)
and we had dinner with his folks, Suzanne and Bo, who were also lovely, generous people.
We set up Oliver’s dorm. It’s one of the nicest ones at GWU and located in downtown’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood, it’s just an 8 minute walk from the White House and a 15 minute walk to the Lincoln Memorial.
We were also able to sneak in a morning visiting a couple of the Smithsonian Museums.
I really loved seeing the Hope Diamond and all the jewels
and all the Presidential exhibits in the Museum of American History.
I especially found the First Lady exhibit fascinating. There were profiles of each woman, a chronology of tabletop throughout the WH history and many of the most iconic outfits worn by them over the years.
Not surprisingly, I found Michelle’s and Jackie O’s — a GWU Grad!–clothing most lovely but I also really fancied Nancy Reagan’s very Chanel-like white Adolfo suit.
It was wonderful to see Oliver and Charlotte make presidential speeches
and these quick visits made me look forward to return visits to D.C. There are so many fantastic museums in this city (many of which are free!) and we barely scratched the surface.
Perhaps best of all was the fact that we were able to meet up with my sister and her family twice.
Once we met them briefly as they were driving down from Boston to Virginia to take their son Cooper off to his own freshman adventure at University of Richmond and they made a quick D.C. detour.
I filled Charlotte in on the surprise visit so she could text them where to meet us outside the museum (Oliver had no idea he was about to meet up with his beloved cousins!)
and it was wonderful to see them together.
It had been a year since they’d seen each other but whenever we do see each other it’s like it’s been a week.
Look at Charlotte’s IG post.
I love my family so much and am so happy when we are together.
Isn’t my sister the CUTEST?
D.C. was a blur of dorm shopping (in one day I hit the Costco in VA, a Trader Joe’s in D.C. and then back out to VA with my sister and her family to round up some more Target supplies).
This trip was also a blur of shared meals.
With Frank and his folks we hit up local favorite &pizza (custom pizzas in 90 seconds!).
The next night we went out with them again to Roti (think Chipotle but with all Mediterranean ingredients and so much better).
We loved it so much we went again with Polly and Co. after they dropped off Cooper.
There were were lots of nibbles from the Whole Foods grab-and-go section (Oliver’s food plan includes this spot).
We also got to Sweetgreens , a local salad chain that had been recommended to me by a number of people.
The Kale Caesar with Parmesan chips blew my mind (I’m so eager to go back).
One of my favorite times was the night my sister and I gathered our crews and we went on a night tour of D.C. and some of its monuments.
Oliver was ecstatic to finally be in D.C., and it was a beautiful thing to witness the wonder and excitement he feels about his new home.
At night especially, this city is really a special place.
Ladies and gentleman, I present to you The Supreme Court.
It’s a gorgeous, imposing building that’s made entirely of marble and Oliver walked up to with such reverence and awe.
So was it hard to leave the next day?
You bet it was. Oliver is such a central force in our family. He’s one of my absolute favorite people on the planet, David’s best friend, and Charlotte and Porter’s primary playmate. Undoubtedly, his physical presence will be sorely missed.
But we left him so happy that it was easier to go.
Our family is so close that I know we aren’t going to lose touch (in fact, he Facetimes us every day and texts us a lot with chirpy updates and requesting advice on everything from moot court to laundry).
We also wrote notes to each other to sustain us in the months ahead.
He hid our letter in the kitchen and we hid our letters to him in a box in his new closet.
Mine was done on the fly (I wish I’d taken more time to write more neatly or organize my thoughts better).
His was a beautiful, multi-page letter of specific memories, gratitude and recognition that we will always be close. He talked about how David, Charlotte and I will always be the spine of his life’s book, and as such we hold together a lot of empty pages that he can’t wait to fill.
I cry every time I read his letter — and feel blessed to be gifted such loving, compassionate kids.
Are you too dealing with a kid who’s off? It also helps for me to think that at least for now, college is a timeshare. Between holidays and long summer break, we will have Oliver with us about one-quarter or one-third of the time. And I’m going to appreciate every damn minute we have together.
So until then, have yourself a blast, Oliver…
and we’ll continue to keep the home fires burning.
(Love and hugs to all of you who’ve recently said goodbyes, are dealing with loss or health insecurity. They all suck.)