Letters from a Commuter Marriage

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Dear Fred…Geri has been in Capetown for 3 of the past 5 weekends and when we are together in Chicago now, we are five (Emilia and two attention hound schnauzers). Upon Geri’s latest return from S. Africa she had one day back and then left immediately for a 3-day conference – the one you always see me at in DC at the Omni. So per Geri’s choice, rather than yet another flight to NY, she wanted to stay in Washington for the weekend so we could have a little alone time. It’s been a long haul.

Since I am SVP of R & R, the where and what was on me. We love The Line Hotel in Adams Morgan, but have been there recently. Thought about Dupont Circle but that also felt pretty darned familiar. (We really do get to DC quite a bit, don’t we?) So I decided on Georgetown, for a few reasons. One, self-contained. No need to go far or jump on subways or move about. A city in a city made sense. Secondly, the selection of a side street boutique hotel felt nice. And third, we like to be active on trips and access to the C & O Canal bike trail felt like a winner. Decision made.

The Graham on Thomas Jefferson Place just below M Street was a good choice: a six-story unassuming red brick building with a delightful city-view rooftop bar. I made a beeline from the Amtrak to my long-lost wife and within moments we  we tucked into a lively Friday night scene, enjoying one another and an Aperitivo Spritz for Geri and a Pimm’s for me. The place had a cigar bar thing going which I don’t think is legal in NY anymore, but since we were rooftop it was not oppressive. Good crowd, and a nice reminder that DC is a friendly and delightfully diverse town. After a few refreshing bevvies we headed out for a walk and dinner.  M and Wisconsin is like Times Square and we avoided that hubbub all weekend. Tourists, chain stores and crowds. We stumbled upon a mini-restaurant row on 31st Street below M and nabbed an outdoor table at Flavios. Decent Italian, nothing fancy, but great summertime vibe. We lingered over our Rigatoni Arrabiata and Veal Piccata and big goblets of house red.  Three weeks apart reminds you how much fun it is to date your wife.

Saturday we were out early and found a great second floor cafe called Paul, where we had a delicious French breakfast of eggs, jambon, buttery croissant and strong coffee. We think it might be the same place we had breakfast after our first date at the Watergate Hotel 15 years ago – the night you were on hold in case I didn’t like her. I did. But I remember you kept the lights on.

A short hike to 33rd Street and we scored our rides at Big Wheels and pedaled out to the C & O canal path for a day trip. Here is your Rockville High School smile-of-the-day, Fred. At Fletcher Boat House along the Potomac about two miles in, the canal path merged with a paved path that seemed gentler for riding, so we crisscrossed over to that. It wasn’t until I saw signs along the path for the Montgomery Mall that I finally realized the Crescent Bike Trail is NOT the C & O Canal!! Thirty minutes later we were back in DC, take two.

The canal is old and full of history and herons and turtles basking on logs and all sorts of wildlife. Also the trail is not busy at all. The Potomac runs on your left and you have frequent views. Ultimately we found a break in the thick woods and parked our bikes and enjoyed the peace and solitude of the running river before the long ride back. All told I think we rode 20 miles or so, about 4-5 hours of delicious exercise. The air was crisp and sunny and it made for a great day.

Back in civilization, we scoped out an alleyway with no car traffic and happened upon a great outdoor Austrian Bistro called Kafe Leopold. Parched and starving, we tucked into beers and iced coffees and tea sandwiches. Lots of cool design upscale shops lined the alley, though my wife was equally taken by a designer donut shop that demanded attention. We walked back to our room, which was a large and spacious King suite with views out over Georgetown towards the university and west. We had a long and lovely read and nap and then headed out for late dinner. We strolled along quiet Prospect Street until we found The Peacock Cafe, another outdoor experience – a bit fancier, but we had dressed up a bit – and had martinis and charcuterie, jambalaya and lobster salad with a mango citrus dressing.

The next morning I was out early to read my Times and have coffee.  After returning to our pied-a-terre to serve my wife Starbucks in bed, we walked towards Dupont Circle and happened upon a buzzy little brunch place called Firefly. Delicious breakfast tacos, bloodies and chilaquiles (a Geri fav). Next, we made the de rigueur visit to the always-fabulous Kramerbooks and scored a few literary finds before retreating to our mercifully a/c’ed room to get out of the DC humidity. (Remember playing tennis for hours in that blazing heat, Freddie? We’d play ’til we collapsed and then go slug Gatorade and strawberry Yoo-Hoo at the 7-11 on Norbeck Road.)

After the requisite nap we regrouped and resuscitated at Kafe Leopold because Geri really liked their iced coffee. I forced down another delicious Pilsner and by then the temperature had dropped and sunset was nearing so we returned to our rooftop lounge at The Graham, which on a Sunday night was a lot quieter and more intimate. Geri had a Pimm’s and I had my very first Moscow Mule, which was refreshing and delicious. Then I had my second. We watched the night fall over Georgetown and enjoyed some deviled eggs with Harissa sauce and prosciutto and artichoke dip and chips, before repairing to our room. Geri was sated at that point, but yours truly needed a steaming plate of spicy drunken Thai noodles, which I brought in and enjoyed with ESPN Sunday night baseball while my wife packed and read. We kissed goodbye at 7 a.m. Monday morning and were both back at our desks in Chicago and New York before noon.

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