Wednesday, April 18, 2007

we are all hokies

all week long i've been struggling, trying to figure out what to say about the massacre at virginia tech. i've finally realized that for me, what it comes down to is another near-miss story, much like my september 11 experience.

one of my very best friends - we'll call her ernie - is a student at tech. this university and this friend are forever linked for me. from the moment she decided to go to blacksburg for undergrad, she has been as committed a hokie as one can ever hope to find. when i visited her there it took no time for me to realize why she loved the place so much - i've never met nicer people (including my first boyfriend) anywhere, and the campus is sprawling and majestic... the scale makes it feel, in spite of hurrying and harried students everywhere, like you've got all the time in the world to meander across the drill field and among the buildings. i remember a duck pond a notoriously naked friend of hers jumped in, bowling in the student center, drinking coffee in town, and toasting her 21st at local haunt sharky's.

after a hiatus in the real world, ernie recently returned to school at va tech, and it turns out she was supposed to be sitting down for a class on the second floor of norris hall when the rampage began. luck of luck, a professor she was visiting for something else asked her what the heck she was doing on campus, after knowing about the first two shootings, and said, "i wouldn't be here if i didn't have to be - you should go home." so she did... though skipping class is definitely not her style. and she is unharmed, well, physically anyway. her good friend and lab partner was not so lucky, though thankfully we have just learned this afternoon that she is alive, in serious condition in a hospital in roanoke after withstanding (a shot? shots?) to the abdomen. another friend arrived at norris just after the shooting began - got off the bus, saw students jumping from second-story windows, and turned right around and got back on that bus.

i am so profoundly grateful that ernie is alive and in one piece. she's headed home to annapolis as i type, and i'm taking the day off friday to spend with her, doing whatever she wants to do. i'm so lucky to have that opportunity.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

DC vacation

a good friend of mine went out of town this week and asked me to housesit for her at her gorgeous place in dupont circle. i greeted this invitation with glee - her condo is in an incredibly desirable neighborhood, and her home itself is stunning - high ceilings, hardwood floors, beautiful kitchen, two bedrooms and full baths... including a shower for two... so, basically, in return for taking care of her adorable kitty, i got to pretend i was a lucky girl living in the city for a couple days. so sunday evening i parked my car in her spot behind the building and gave myself over to the life, however briefly.

i wasn't feeling so hot that night, but once cam arrived he easily talked me into walking around the neighborhood in search of dinner. we ended up at one of my favorite spots, thai chef, and ordered up a tablefull of food - miso soup, salad with ginger dressing, and sushi for me, green curry for cam. between the warm weather and good food and perfect company, i started to feel a bit better. we wandered home and curled up on the couch for an episode of entourage - special, since i don't have hbo! the next morning i got to walk to work (instead of my usual walk to bus stop - bus to train - train to work trip), an incredible treat, and i arrived at work refreshed and sunny, rather than harried and commute-beaten. walking home from work was equally pleasant, and when i got "home" i cracked open a beer and awaited cam's arrival. he's been dying to take me out for ethiopian food, a cuisine i have shunned after 2 less-than-delicious outings, and that night i relented. after a quick stop at the hardware store to pick up a hostess gift of sorts (a lightbulb for my friend's refrigerator, which had gone dark), we walked over to dukem on u street and it was magical. i truly felt like we were on vacation in an exotic locale - not africa, necessarily, just anywhere that isn't here, that isn't the states. the food was delicious, there was a live band and dancers, the waitstaff all wore gauzy white dresses, and i didn't ever want to leave.

packing up the next morning was tough... hopefully we left the place as good or better than we found it, and will be invited back!