This whole trip north has been a final "goodbye" to the area that I once loved--I have found myself traveling all of the trails that I took regularly at one time or another during my residency here, from Bethesda, MD, to Fairfax, VA, seeing those whose schedules permitted, eating at my favorite Greek restaurant in Alexandria, stopping off at the Arlington Library to confirm that my expiring library card cannot be renewed for out-of-state residents, and so forth. I've spent time with Rachel and Susan, with DesertRose and Leah, with Amy and the girls from my old trivia team. I picked up the last available books from my German professor friend (one more time in the ICC at Georgetown!), and dropped off a selection of lamps at the consignment store where I used to work. I didn't get to see my former estate sale boss (she was not at home when I was in the area), and there are a few others I've missed, but life moves on, and as much as it would have been a pleasure to touch base, I don't feel any sense of incompletion.
In fact, I am amazed at how relieved I am not to be living here any longer. I have no desire to return. Really, I don't have a yen even to visit anymore. I miss my friends here, but there is a sensation of shaking the dust from my feet, a "been there, done that, got the t-shirt" attitude that I am surprised has taken hold inside me. I am ready to do something else, go somewhere else. I feel no regrets for having spent my thirties in this area--it really was a dream come true--but I feel lighter, and freer, looking to begin my forties elsewhere. I am leaving tomorrow, a day earlier that I had previously planned.
Several people have asked whether I am still corresponding with the fellow I referred to as my LDC, and the answer is no. Not because of any ill-will, but because the contact simply lapsed--I got the impression overall that he was writing out of a sense of courteous obligation, rather than any real personal interest, and when I never received a reply to my last note, I did not send another. It is to be expected when one is studying in a second language and some random person is writing you in a third that one would become fatigued. I was thus disappointed, but not surprised, at this conclusion.
On a positive note, I have added another website address to my side-bar: Red Dragon Diaries. I mentioned in a previous post that I had watched several vlogs on this guy's YouTube channel and liked them (when I found it, he had "only" 8000 subscribers, now he has over 13,000!), but was particularly fascinated lately by his story about an ice cream place that uses liquid nitrogen to freeze its treats on the spot, and another about a bus-stop flea market (he's done a lot on solid, serious topics, but I was entranced by stories of sugar and antiquities, my two major obsessions...). Enjoy!