There was very special meaning to our Baltimore visit this year. After nearly 50 years, Friday, April 30th, I would be re-united with my best friend, Lynne, from high school (Hanover, MA). We found each other over a year ago, just before Dad died, and have been in regular phone and e-mail contact since. She lives in Arlington, VA
The morning of the 30th dawned crystal clear and just before LM and Ev were to drive me to Baltimore's beautiful Penn Station to get the train to Alexandria , VA, they took this photo in the garden.
The train was really comfortable and the views interesting. We passed very close to the capitol building in Washington, DC and there were great views of the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial.
As we neared, the butterflies were dancing in my middle, and questions were flying through my mind....Would we recognize each other? Would we really re-connect? The second I stepped off the train and looked to my right, I saw her on the concourse - the same beautiful smile, the same posture. I'd have known her anywhere. The day was dreamlike and, believe me, we did not run out of things to say!
Our first stop was in Old Alexandria, where we walked along the waterfront, and then through the old "Torpedo Factory," which now houses many floors of artists studios, all open to the public. A beautiful creative space allowing the artists to relate to their customers while they work.
Torpedo Factory - Artists' Center in upper right background.
A Potomac River tour boat leaves the dock
We eventually made our way to King St....the main street of Old Town Alexandria, found a bench in the sunshine and made a plan of attack. The architecture, cobblestone and brick streets and shops are just beautiful, and I have never seen so many intriguing restaurants on one street - many with outside dining. We decided to walk up to the William Carlyle House. One has the feeling you could spend several days seeing all the sites, and my hip was holding out fairly well, but I needed to try to save some "life" for the Sheep and Wool on Saturday.
The gardens at the Carlyle house were really beautiful and we sat on a bench and chatted for the longest time.
After some time in the garden, we found "The Warehouse" restaurant which seemed very inviting and promised some iced tea and lunch. We were not disappointed.....good conversation accompanied an oyster dish for Lynne and some crabcakes for moi.
After a bit more walking, we were both ready to return to the car and go to Lynne's lovely home in Arlington to meet her kitties, Lucky and Joy (sorry no photos!), and then have a little nap before her husband, Ravi arrived from work and we shared a lovely dinner. The day just sped by, and we still had so much to talk about. Ravi is such a wonderful man, and their love and happiness after 33 years of marriage is very apparent. I cannot wait for them to visit me here on Cape Cod soon.
My train back to Baltimore was due to leave at 7:15 pm, and we were at the station with time to spare...the talking continued in the lovely early evening light, sitting on the platform of this quaint Alexandria station. Waiting, waiting - after some inquiries, we were told it would be about 1/2 hour late. Finally I was called to cross to the other side of the tracks, and we all said good-bye...my eyes filled with tears, and in a dreamlike state, I made my way across, looking back and waving as Lynne and Ravi left for home. It all felt like a dream.
More waiting - at least another 1/2 hr, and then the train finally approached.
I made the call to Baltimore to tell LM and Ev that I was finally on my way and should be in to Penn Station by 9:30 or so. No such thing....the train would proceed for a few minutes, STOP (no explanations at all), STOP, and then we finally got to Washington DC and the train just sat for almost an hour....no power, no restrooms, again, no explanation. Disgruntled passengers abounded. After my great trip in the morning I was feeling pretty confident in Amtrak, but the return trip was endless. Meditation, and reflection on the beautiful visit with Lynne got me through. LM kept calling, as they were in Balti circling Penn Station. As the train finally neared Balti, it stopped again. Truly.....it was nearly 4 hours in what should have taken just over an hour. Oh well, it was worth it! I walked out of Penn Station and at the door, was a HUGE and elegant silver-blue Rolls Royce waiting at the curb, huge chrome wheels gleaming in the dark.....alas, it was not for me, but my still-circling knights in shining armor, drove up shortly in Ev's truck to retrieve me from the curb. LM's kiss and hug were so very welcome....he'd been nervous about my Amtrak adventure.
That day was a dream come true and it stirred up so many memories of my childhood, and most of all, gave me a new appreciation for everything I was given in life by my parents. I only wish Dad could know that I'd finally found Lynne again. He was always a fan of she and her family. They gave me two of the most amazing summers of my life by bringing me away from my insular life on the farm to their home in Bethesda, MD, where I got to experience city life, and the family of a well-respected diplomat of our government. Lynne's father was an Ambassador and expert on Middle-Eastern affairs, and they had lived in many countries around the world. I was awestruck. In those summers, I got to experience visiting the state department, all the major D.C. memorials, attended live theater productions (My Fair Lady), hear a young JFK address the senate, and so much more. It left such a lasting impression on my life and I just needed to be with Lynne to relive those days and to tell her just how much it all impacted my little world. We've even re-lived the little things like eating cottage cheese mixed with chives on potato chips, still a habit which lives on today!
Lynne and Ravi lead a very peace-centered life and I felt that same peace imbued in me after our visit. Friendship's gift which keeps on giving. Lovely!