Jersey Girl

(or, Father’s Day Trip, Part 3)

On Wednesday, I left Williamsburg early enough that I made the (oft-made, in my college years) trip up to Northern Virginia in about two and a half hours. I didn’t have much of an agenda, but I did want to at least drive through my home town, McLean. Didn’t do a lot there, just stopped to get gas (my rental SUV needed to be tanked up a lot). Drove through my old neighborhood and by our house. Dad and Mom had actually done much the same a few years ago, got to meet the current owner of the house, and see the rather extensive modifications he’d done inside. The house does look different – smaller, mostly, although I suspect that’s my own perspective.

Hitt Avenue, the parallel street, was notable in our childhood for having a short block that was a great sledding hill in winter, and then a very long block with houses only on one side (the other side was a narrow wooded property separating it from Old Dominion Drive). It was very quiet and somewhat spooky and a great place to ride your bike. I did a drive down there – all the old and hidden houses had been replaced by modern ones, oh well.

Drove Old Chesterbrook across the creek bridge, now widened and improved enough that I’ll bet I could have ridden my bike across it without my French horn falling off the bike like it did every other time or so. Went to McLean High, again, just to drive through the parking lot. It looks much the same, although there is new construction going on in the athletic fields. And then on my way.

My target was Willingboro, NJ, where my friend Susan is dealing with and cleaning up the house she inherited when both her parents passed away suddenly within weeks of each other a few months ago. It’s tough for her – not only processing both those deaths, devastating, but suddenly dealing with this property and both estates and all that. I’d stayed there a few months ago when it was all just getting started and she just needed a willing ear. Things are much better now – she’s much more officially ‘papered’ now so she can actually do real things with the property and estate. She’s slowly going through the rooms and the attic and putting together stuff to give away or move or whatever. The ultimate plan is to sell the house and get a house that will be Entirely Her Own, without a lifetime of ghosts attached to it.

We had a really nice day or so of it! I arrived in mid-afternoon, and we ended up going to Bristol, PA, across the river, to have dinner with a mutual friend. A nice walk around first, and then an outdoor patio dinner by the river. (of the four or so sit-down outdoor restaurant meals I had on this trip, this one was the mostly tightly-packed/not-very-distanced one, but it wasn’t scarily so). We had fried calamari, and I had a seafood sandwich roll. Again, hit with the first world problem of ‘they have desserts, but not what I want’. I ended up with ice cream, which was very nice. More wandering around and enjoying the evening, then to home, where I was out like a light once I hit the sack.

Thursday morning, I had a bit of prep for a major interview I had scheduled on Friday, but then the plan was to go out and explore cute little towns and main streets. We started in Mt. Holly, where we went to a teddy bear store (!!!) which also had some used books (I bought two more Jack Reacher books) and a yarn store, where I ended up getting some wool yarn on sale that is reportedly great for felting. Lunch at Robin’s Nest, where we’d had dinner the last time I was there.

Then we went to Bordentown and Allentown to walk around. Didn’t buy much of anything else, except for ice cream, yum, but they were nice and pretty. I do have sort of a hankering to eventually live in the sort of town with a small main street and nice surroundings, and these were very much that.

Dinner plans were to go to Best of the Wurst for German food. The website had said that you had to call ahead for a reservation to eat out on the patio, and I did, but the proprietor sort of laughed at me, and when we showed up, I realized why, there was almost nobody there. It’s in a marina, and I grew up in marinas eating at their restaurants, so that was a nice flashback. It was BYOB and we’d forgotten to do so, so just had sodas. The menu made me want everything, but the big choice for me was between German stuff (spaetzel) or Polish stuff (pierogies). We split a potato pancake dish that was artery-clogging and wonderful, then I had kielbasa and pierogies and Susan had a pork schnitzel dish with a gingerbread sauce that had looked very tempting. Split a nice dessert, then back home for homemade cosmos.

Friday, I had to get up and out early to make sure I got home in time to prepare for the interview. I was on the road by 7:45 or so. Then the rental car decided it didn’t want to talk to my Iphone, even though they’d been good friends up to that point, so that caused issues as I tried to pick routes and so on. Ended up pulling over into a rest area, and ‘rebooted’ the car, which solved the problem.

Got back to the city and my neighborhood less than an hour before the interview, but managed to find a parking spot close enough that I could bring all the luggage in. I got into an interview outfit (not sure of protocol -whether they still expect you to wear a tie even when you’re videoconferencing from your own home – but I did). Had an hour each with the guy I’d be reporting to, and the guy he reports to. Liked them both, and oddly enough, clicked better with the guy who I thought was kind of a former frat-boy type. So that went well and I need to send them some sample docs I wrote, first thing this morning once I get the day started.

(and then I pretty much spent the rest of the day in the recliner, wiped).

Weekend was mostly about laundry and resetting from the trip, and getting the air conditioners up and running. We watched a really great documentary series on Netflix called They’ve Gotta Have Us, about black actors in Hollywood. I’d forgotten about Robert Townsend and “Hollywood Shuffle”: all the interviews were great, but Townsend is hilarious. (And David Oyelowo is adorable. I wonder what team he plays for?)

OK, so… now out for my walk, and then back to the grind. Big reset this week – not only a new month, but it’s now been half a year, so good time to start fresh on some stuff.

Oh, and Happy Pride!

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