Last year was a crazy year – from our big move to another coast, settling into a new place, and enjoying the highs (and lows) of newlywed life. Here are few snapshots from our first year together.
The year started off pretty rocky. Our move didn’t go well (a total understatement – it was the worst move ever with lots of things missing or broken) and me recovering from a Christmas Eve/Christmas spent in the ER. I felt physically sick well into January and totally lost my appetite for food, and in retrospect, many other things. I missed my old life in SF, my friends, my home, and stupid mundane things like my morning ritual of getting coffee with one of my good friends and co-workers. I recently stumbled across these photos that I took last January, and I was surprised by how stark and post-apocalyptic they looked. They visually captured my mood for the majority of January.
February was about letting go. I had to let go of a lot of anger I felt about losing things in the move (it’s just stuff, right?) I had to let go of my old home and old life. And hardest of all, I had to say goodbye to my little girl Sabine who became extremely ill (most likely due to an undetected birth defect) and passed away quickly and unexpectedly. It was one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever had to watch, partly because Sabine was still so young and partly because she had been with me through so much back in SF. I couldn’t shake the coincidentally cruel timing of her death with all the other life changes that were simultaneously occurring. It felt like a sick joke and some messed up lesson at the same time.
February was also about new beginnings. The day after Sabine passed away, I wandered aimlessly around our local pet store and found Max. I didn’t intend to get a new kitty, and certainly didn’t feel ready for another one that soon, but as they say, pets find you, not the other way around. For years, I had the weirdest (this is how you know if you’re a crazy cat lady) dream about adopting a silver tabby named “Max.” So when I stumbled across a silver tabby with the name “Mac” at a kitty adoption fair, I asked to pick him up. When I held him in my arms, he immediately started purring – and then he fell asleep. It was just like when I first met Sabine who also purred the moment I picked her up from her cage. I took it as a sign. Max turned out to be such a blessing and a comfort, and truly the perfect addition to our family. We were definitely destined to meet on that day of all days.
As the cold weather began to slip away, we began to explore DC a little more, attending concerts (Royksopp, Mumford and Sons, Cibo Matto, Death Cab) and operas (Madame Butterfly, Final Fantasy symphony, Orchestra series at the National Cathedral) and trying new restaurants (Bistro Beck, Elevate Burger, Rays Burger, Birch and Barley, etc.). After months of so many life changes, Life started to feel normal again.
For Sly’s bday, I surprised Sly by inviting our families to a cabin near Shenandoah for a weekend of cooking, drinking, eating, and sitting by the fire. We had a great time, and ate sooooo much. At night, we sat by the world’s hottest fire (thanks to JJ pouring cups of hot grease on it), picked up and tossed ‘the rock of truth’ (that was just the dumb boys), and finished off a keg of Coor’s Light. We woke up the next morning to see the landscape completely covered in white. It was a perfect weekend.
April was a month of visitors – my brother and his gf came to DC to visit, and it allowed me the opportunity to explore DC with them, as well as take mini-trips to nearby cities. We spent a weekend in Philly where I experienced many firsts: first time to see the Liberty Bell, first time at Reading Terminal, and most importantly, first time eating a real Philly cheese steak (still prefer Texadelphia). Pat’s vs. Genos? For me, Geno’s won. Spring finally arrived, the weather warmed up, and the cherry blossoms were as beautiful as I remembered.
We spent Memorial Day in NYC – the first time we had been there since moving to the East Coast. We visited all our mainstay eateries in the LES, feasted at Le Bernardin (amazing) and spent a sunny (although not exactly warm) afternoon at Coney Island.
A million failed attempts at gardening finally resulted in my first successful veggie garden! I couldn’t believe how easy it was and how prolific the plants were. Cucumbers, tomatoes, and eggplants were especially successful. Squash and beans, not so much. Obsessively photographing our garden reawakened something inside of me and reminded me of the one tiny joy I had working in the corporate world: photography. It sounds super-cheesy, but it made me realize that maybe this was the path I should be pursuing. In June, I took the plunge and started my own photography business.
One of the things I missed most about the West Coast were our frequent explorations and backpacking/camping trips to some of the most amazing national parks. I think my heart will always be tied to the openness and natural beauty of the West Coast, but Shenandoah was pretty great too. We stayed in an old cabin near the main lodge and because we were trying to eat healthy, cooked chili in our bedroom using a crockpot! We took lots of amazing hikes, read a ton, and of course, ate lots of good food. The best part about Shenandoah was it’s proximity to home – we’ll definitely be exploring more of the park on future excursions!
All summer we talked about wanting to go to the beach, and finally at the end of August we made it! Sly and I spent the weekend at the Jersey shore with a friend visiting Atlantic City and Wildwood, NJ. I’m a sucker for old boardwalks, and the ones on the rundown yet charmingly nostalgic East Coast really do it for me. Atlantic City reminded me of another semi-busted town that we both love: Reno. We had a great time.
We fulfilled one of our life-long dreams at the end of August/Early September — we went to Alaska! Both Sly and I have talked about visiting/moving there since we first met. For us, Alaska has always been this ideal place; the last frontier. The romanticism and remoteness of Alaska always appealed to us in that Into the Wild sort of way. In Alaska we camped at so many mind-boggling beautiful places, ate so much amazing food, and saw so much wildlife. I don’t want to say it was the trip of a lifetime because that implies we’ll never be back, but it was a trip we’ll always remember. These snippets are just a few of the millions of photos we took in Alaska, as I’m still sorting through all our photos. Love love love love Alaska – visiting only reaffirmed that I still would love to live there one day.
At the end of September, I went to Michigan with my sister to visit family and explore Ann Arbor. We watched this bizarre show called “Lizard Lick” with our cousin, and made multiple trips to the local Meijer. For those that don’t live in Michigan, you should know that Meijer sells hard liquor 24 hrs a day. Amazing. In Ann Arbor, we shopped at all the cutesy shops, roamed around the campus, visited a farmer’s market, and tried so much good food. I never knew Ann Arbor was such a cute town!
Before we knew it, we were celebrating our first wedding anniversary. It was so crazy to think we had been married for a year already, and even crazier to think how much we had been through in a year. We took a weekend trip to Atlanta to visit our parents earlier in the month, and then spent a relaxing weekend in Pennsylvania Dutch Country for our anniversary. We stayed at an old converted cork factory and watched Gaslight at a nearby historic opera house. In between stuffing our faces with cheese and cured meats, we rode a steam train, tasted local wine, and did a lot of antique shopping.
Fall has always been my most favorite time of the year – I love the changing weather, the beautiful Fall leaves, and the anticipation of the holidays right around the corner. But October was also a bittersweet month. This year marked the 5th anniversary of my dad’s death. It always amazes me how quickly time flies.
The holidays were pretty busy for us – Sly was engaged on a pretty complex work project and I was really busy taking lots of holiday portraits. Thanksgiving was spent back in Houston, eating Mom’s amazing cooking, and playing with my mom’s kitty, Rosie.
Sly revived what used to be a yearly birthday tradition and took me to NYC for my birthday. I love NYC in the winter – despite the cold, it’s such a magical place. All we did was eat, eat and then eat some more! Definitely like old times! For my birthday, Sly took me to Momofuku Ko (amazing) and got me wasted on sake and wine. After drinking and gorging we hit up a convenience store to load up on cheetos and chocolate. Some things never change.
My mom, brother and nephew flew to DC to spend Christmas with us. It was fun showing our nephew around DC and of course, fun to make and eat tons of holiday food! We summoned the strength on New Year’s Eve to fill a flask with Talisker and head out to Old Town Alexandria to watch the new year’s countdown in front of the masonic temple. Even though something about the ending of a year always makes me a little bit sad, I am both happy and excited for the new year – we have a lot more dream projects to accomplish, places to explore, and food to eat!