Monday, November 15, 2010

A Romantic Rendezvous

The point of this blog is to talk about this path, this wonderful journey, that I'm on. I feel that the past 4 days have been an important part of this journey, and I want to share it with you. Or maybe I just want to share about our fabulously touristy trip. Either way, enjoy.

In a nutshell, long distance relationships are hard. But we all knew that already, didn't we? Technology has definitely made it easier, and quite frankly, I doubt Stian and I could would be able to make it without Skype, being able to text internationally (thanks parents for helping with the bill....and okay you do more than "help", but I (and Stian too, of course), appreciate it immensely), and a bit of finagling our daily routines to utilize all our communication possibilities.

Our relationship has basically been a sum of visits every 3 to 5 months: very happy hellos, lots of fun followed by incredibly sad goodbyes, and not knowing when the next time we would see each other again. I also want to point out that I think dating someone overseas is probably the most expensive relationship you can ever fall into. I realize it doesn't sound so positive, and you might ask why either of us would bother. Truthfully, I think Stian and I have questioned that ourselves, but what kept us going was how great we were (and are!) when we're together. We just work: we "get" each other - we laugh, we have fun, we fight sometimes and then move on to having fun again. Not to mention...we love each other (for those very reasons, perhaps?).

Sometimes I have to backtrack through holidays to know when we saw each other last. I left Norway after a 3 month stay last December (right before Christmas), and then we didn't see each other again until March (right around Easter). During the March visit we figured out that we probably wouldn't see each other until August, but even that was up in the air because of work and school schedules. This would make it at LEAST 5 months between seeing each other and that is simply too long. Unfortunately, we grow restless of Skype, sometimes have nothing to text, and occasionally wish we weren't scheduled to talk to each other at exactly 6:15 in the morning or 10:15 at night. But we persevere and work through the challenges. Living through the 5- months-apart situation made us realize that it should never happen again, and so (ah yes, here is the point!) we scheduled a trip. A "romantic rondevous" if you will, meeting halfway between Norway and California. That put us in approximately Washington D.C. (a much cheaper destination than New York) in November. Instead of 4 months between the August visit and the upcoming Christmas/New Years trip for me to Norway, it was only 3 months. And that leaves a month and a half til we see each other again at the end of December. But that wasn't the happiest part...

We had a WONDERFUL trip! It was refreshing to be a couple again, without the constant family member around (no offense families, we love you dearly, but we don't often get the luxury of getting each other all to ourselves). Not only that, but we both flew between 5-8 hours (rather than the typical 14 - 24, depending on the cheapest flights we could find), to spend a lovely 4 day weekend together.

It's autumn, and the weather was absolutely perfect. For the entire time we were there, it was approximately 57 degrees (Farenheit, of course) and there was not a cloud in the sky. We took in all the tourist attractions and had a good time doing it (very sore and tired feet not included). I have to give details: we went through an underground tunnel to Capitol Hill where we took a tour of the Capitol and got to check out the House of Representatives Chamber (thanks Dad and Jane Harman). After that we walked the entire way to the Washington Monument (it's A LOT farther than it looks!) with a quick detour to pick up a delicious sandwich from the previously unheard of "Potbelly's" (so yummy) to devour later. We shoved the sandwiches in our bag and got moving so that we could take a picture in front of the White House, then walk by the World War II Memorial, past the reflecting pool, and up the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial to do the one thing Stian was really interested in: seeing the "big guy in the chair". We sat on the cold, marble (was it marble?) stairs, took off our shoes to give our aching feet a break, and devoured lunch. Then we headed over to the Vietnam War Memorial and since Veteran's Day had JUST passed, there were interesting things to look at and read. They were giving out papers and crayons to make a "rubbing" of a name you wanted. What a cool idea, and way better than any picture you could take! After a shedding a few unexpected tears, we moved on, desperately looking for a cab to take us back to the hotel: it was time to put up our poor feet!

After a nap and some tv we were ready to go out for dinner. We went to a great little restaurant we had heard about from some local girls the night before, and they were right: it was in the middle of nowhere, but a really great place. Homemade pizza, big glasses of wine, and just a short walk from the hotel was the perfect end to a long, but fun, day.

The next day was busy, too. Stian and I went to the Smithsonian Castle - we previously passed it on our hike to the Washington Monument and overheard a Segway tourguide say that it was the 2nd most visited museum after the Louvre in France. We checked it out and saw a random assortment of things on display (including a brief history of mail in the U.S. and the largest bird-eating tarantula, bleck!). We looked at the gardens and then went over to the Air and Space museum. You should've seen how excited Stian was when we walked in and saw all those spaceships! :) Passing by the IMAX theatre, we thought the 3D movie about the Hubble looked interesting and bought tickets for later (it was great, by the way!! highly recommend it!). We also tried out the simulator area of the museum - locking ourselves into a "fighter plane" and then turned upside down while firing missiles at the enemy was quite the experience.

After a wandering morning at the museum, we walked over to the Old Post Office Building (upon recommendation from Nick in San Diego) and it was really neat! The building was nice, and lent itself as a great place to sit and eat lunch before we headed up the tower for an AMAZING view of Washington D.C. (for free I might add!). When that was done, we tried to catch a cab, and got the greatest cab driver ever!! He was so nice! The plan was to go to the mall near the Pentagon, but we asked if he wouldn't mind stopping at the Arlington National Cemetery for a few minutes while we took a stroll through the beautiful and of course, famous place. It was breathtaking...there were SO many graves! Just rows upon rows of white grave markers. A sign read "Kennedy Memorial This Way" and we went. It was different than any other memorial we had seen, but I liked it.

Keeping an eye on the clock, we briskly walked back to our kind cab drivers car, hopped in and made our way to the mall. Our driver, named Woubi, showed us the Pentagon and pointed out where the plane crashed into it on September 11 - the stone is a slightly different color than the rest of the building. Fun fact, yes?Anyway, he dropped us off at the 4-story, and I must admit, beautiful mall. We shopped (something we love doing together!) and successfully found some winter shoes for us both.

What a day! We made it back to our hotel, found a good movie on HBO, and decided to order in Chinese food from a menu that was shoved under our door that weekend. Sounds great, right? Well, it kind of was...I had be CRAVING Chinese food, but when it arrived, it seemed the noodles in the chow mein had been on the warmer so long during the day they went crispy. I'm pretty sure they just poured sauce on top and then tried to microwave it to make it look fresh. China Express, you got a big fat "F" in the chow mein department, but redeemed yourself with decent meat and good fried rice.

Now, after boring you with many details from my four day weekend, I am approaching the best part. Our last day together consisted of an overpriced breakfast, checking out, and thinking we could waste about 4.5 hours in Starbucks. That got pretty boring pretty fast, and the bathroom there smelled like a homeless person had been living in it. So we went a few doors down to Potbelly's to get some airplane food, sat in a booth and realized we really couldn't sit there for 2.5 more hours, either. Maybe we could take in a movie? Yeah! Great idea!! Sadly, a great idea much too late. To go to the movies, you need to plan ahead. We didn't and that little time killer might get in the way of getting to the airport later. So we started walking down the street with all of our luggage dragging behind us. We saw a sign for the National Gallery of Art and thought maybe, just maybe, they would have a bag check.

They sure did!! We checked our bags and started wandering the gallery of German drawings. It was okay, nothing amazing, but it killed over an hour and we were grateful for that. We headed out again, found a hotdog stand and sat in the sunshine to eat and enjoy each other's company just a little bit more before heading to the airport.

Our cab driver from the day before had offered us a ride to the airport and gave us his phone number. We called, he picked us up at the Gallery, and we went for the most beautiful drive. This was one of my favorite parts. The colors of autumn in D.C. are lovely and vibrant. All weekend I was commenting on how beautiful the trees were - yellows, oranges, and wonderful reds and greens. Ahhh, so lovely. As we drove, we actually got stuck in a bit of traffic and a group of 3 girls were trying to catch falling leaves. Those leaves were falling EVERYWHERE!! There was a little breeze and they were just...raining down so quietly. I wanted to jump out of the car and catch a few myself. We eventually made it to George Washington Parkway...the funny thing was, our driver was really into rock and roll, but on this part of the road, he switched it to wordless music. I believe it was intentional, to leave us (and him) alone with our thoughts as we took in the scenery. I even pulled out my camera and took a video of it because I thought it was so...lovely. That's all I can say to describe it. I was sitting in the backseat holding Stian's hand watching the sun go through all the autumn colors still on the trees, and all I could think of was that it was a perfect way to end a perfect weekend.

As a bonus, the airport didn't have separate terminals/security/closed gates so Stian and I could wander around together, play cards and kiss goodbye right before he handed over his boarding pass to get on the plane. That never happens...and it probably never will again. What a special trip!

It wasn't a sad goodbye; not this time. :)

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