Days 11-15: Being a Tourist in My Own Life
Days 11-15: Being a Tourist in My Own Life
Note: I’m chronicling my experiment to get up at 5(ish) every weekday until the end of February.
Today is a snow day. No school. They called it last night. No one getting up at 6 or 6:10 or 6:20. But I got up at 5:10 anyway. Actually, it’s more accurate to say that I became awake at 5:10 but I was not out of bed at 5:20.
Right now it’s actually 6:20. Over the last hour, I came down, made some coffee, and wrote in my journal for a good, long time. I had some thoughts to share with myself. Then I meditated, right here at the kitchen island. Just me and the hum of the fridge.
I love not working at my desk. Just doing the same old stuff in a new place can feel like a little vacation. And hey! Guess what? That’s exactly what Joe and I did this weekend.
Our one-year anniversary is coming up. We didn’t have a “real” honeymoon last year, in that we didn’t get on a plane and lay on a beach and all of that. We have kids. And they have school. And we also have bills and real-life grownup-people financial responsibilities that you don’t generally have the first time you get married … and Joe and I have each had a period of near-unemployment in the last few years (contractor life … it’s feast or famine sometimes) and it takes a while to bounce back from that sort of thing. And something else Joe and I both had? Financially devastating divorces that have taken years to bounce back from. Dropping tens of thousands of dollars on a big wedding followed by a lavish trip didn’t feel like a responsible thing to do.
So after our teeny-tiny wedding last year, we went to an adorable bed and breakfast about 20 minutes from here and it was just fucking perfect. We got warm and cozy in the February chill. We ate stuff. We drank stuff. We puttered around. We went to a whole bunch of little towns we hadn’t been to before (even though they’re so damn close) and just acted like tourists.
A few months ago, I suggested we do the whole thing again for our anniversary. And then I suggested we just go away on a tiny little weekend trip for our anniversary every year.
And so that is what we have decided to do. The whole point of the anniversary trip is to just hang out someplace that’s not our house.
We have established rules for these trips. Here are the things we can do: eat, drink, have sex, take baths, read, watch terrible TV if we feel like it, putter around the surrounding areas, and talk and talk and talk.
Here’s what we are not allowed to do: schedule anything other than dinner reservations.
We ended up taking the train into Philly. We can walk to the train station from our house, so we didn’t even have to take a car out of the driveway. On the train ride, I read an article in The Paris Review that made me think about art and life and womanhood … and then I looked over at Joe, looking all trip-ready and absorbed in his book and I thought to myself: Life is kicking so much ass right now. And I love that I could think that on a Septa regional rail ride on the way into a city I’ve spent a bajillion hours in. I love going to far-flung places when given the time and the opportunity, but if you let yourself, you can get the same buzz by keeping it simple. That is called wisdom, assholes.
We stayed at the Hotel Monaco. Bonus: We had a bunch of hotel points to cash in and they took them. Score! It’s a great place. Really imaginative decor. Cozy beds. AMAZING, GIANT BATHTUBS. My dream bathtub, in fact. I miss it. If you stay at this hotel, it’s so worth springing for a room with a tub.
The hotel is in Olde City, right across from Independence Hall. I used to work about a block away from there, so I know the neighborhood semi-well … but I’ve never taken the time to just amble. We did this weekend and guess what? There’s a lot more there than I realized. Like, tons more.
I’ve been on an American history kick since my daughter turned me into someone who compulsively listens to the Hamilton soundtrack several times each week … so it was really cool to have that as a backdrop for being in that neighborhood—where the founding fathers all resided within blocks of each other and were just showing up for work every day right there on Chestnut St.
Joe just read a biography of Benjamin Franklin, so we popped into the small-but-worth-it Benjamin Franklin Museum. Did you realize that Ben Franklin pretty much invented everything? He did. He probably invented the mug I’m drinking my coffee out of right now. It’s hard not to leave that museum without feeling like a slacker, but here’s the upside: Franklin didn’t seriously get into science until his 40s (I think), after he retired from the printing biz. And, of course, there’s all that founding-father schizz as well … and negotiating treaties with France and charting the Gulf Stream during his sea voyages and blah, blah, blah. All that happened in what we nowadays would consider middle age.
Get ready for another wisdom bomb: You can have a pretty amazing second act. And third one, too. Don’t make the mistake of hitting 40 or 50 or 60 or whatever and thinking that you’ve done all you’ll ever do or know all that you’ll ever know. If old Ben had stopped in his 40s, the world we live in would be a very different place. Keep contributing.
Moving on …
We also collected ideas for things we’d like to see with the kids. I don’t know about the rest of you, but we get so jacked up about taking the kids to cool, interesting places that we sometimes overlook all the worthwhile stuff right down the road. I mostly grew up around the Philadelphia area but I didn’t set foot in Independence Hall until I was in my late 30s … and then I was blown away by how cool it was.
Speaking of “cool,” it was pretty cold this weekend. That’s the upside of going away in the winter. It’s cold enough that you’re not motivated to be out all the time. So we spent a lot time just lounging around the hotel room, our feet propped up on each other’s chairs, reading for long stretches. We drank a lot of wine, including a veddy fancy bottle I got from my employers for Christmas this year. We used the amazing bathtub. We chilled.
On Sunday we had brunch at Jones, where I freaking finally had chicken and waffles. Finally. I always hear about this combo but I’ve never had it— except at our wedding, where we had tiny ones passed out during the appetizers. But you know, you never eat at your own wedding, so that was lost on me. Anyway, now I can say that I get it. Chicken and waffles. Yes. Not something I’d order all the time, but I’m on board.
Then after we checked out, we meandered around the surrounding neighborhoods. I got two pairs of vintage shoes for $18. They were each priced at $18, but then it turns out they were 50% off, so yes, that’s $9 each! Haha! They are just the right balance of gorgeousity (that’s a new word I just made – feel free to use it) and also sorta-ugly, which is the recipe for the perfect vintage shoe if you ask me. I’m so excited to find an excuse to wear them.
The whole weekend was so relaxing and kickass and, you guys, my hair was perfect the whole time, so that was just the icing on the cake. Or the chicken on the waffle.
And then we had to come home. It was hard to break the little weekend-vacay bubble. And now it’s Tuesday and we’re sitting here, waiting to get snowed in.
Work today. But maybe pancakes with the kids first? It’s no chicken and waffles, but it’ll do.
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