The Best and Worst of Times

I’m back! I had a lovely, incredibly special wedding last weekend and I’ll be sharing photos as soon as fabulous photographer Erica sends me the good ones. That’s not what I want to talk about today though. You see while I had a great weekend in DC, DC is not having the greatest week.

On Friday night my dad hosted a cozy warm rehearsal dinner for us in his apartment by the Navy Yard, right between Nationals Stadium and the Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters (Building 197). We relaxed on his terrace, drank champagne and watched the lights on the river while the Nationals trounced the Phillies.

View from my dad’s terrace

The next day we got married, in a beautiful sunny ceremony on the National Mall at the DC War Memorial. It was better than I ever could have hoped for, and we partied late into the night on a rooftop in Dupont. Then on Sunday Mike and I kissed everyone goodbye and headed off to spend a couple days in seclusion at the fancy W Hotel, located directly next to the White House.

That evening we walked around the Mall, hand-in-hand in the moonlight and took in the view from the hotel’s swanky rooftop bar. I told Mike how, even though I’m so excited and ready for new adventures, I’m a little sad to be leaving this city that I really do love.


a blurry late night Mall walk

On Monday morning we woke up to terrifying news: a mass shooting at the Navy Yard, in building 197, quite literally next to my Dad’s apartment and the area where he walks his dog every morning. Multiple people dead and possibly multiple shooters still at large. After confirming that my father was safely in his apartment watching the helicopters go by, we sat, glued to the TV, watching the carnage unfold just a couple of miles away.

It was stunningly surreal: this was happening in MY city. Another shooting, there have been so many in the past year or two that it’s easy to feel desensitized to the random violence and death. It really does feel different though, when it happens in your hometown, a place you love and feel safe in.

Actually, what it makes me feel is angry. Angry that this keeps happening and that as a country so many are unwilling to try to stop it. You can say it’s about guns, or you can say it’s about mental illness- it’s almost certainly about both, but it’s just going to keep happening and happening until something in this country changes.

We’re moving to Mexico in two weeks and people keep telling me to be careful. We will of course, but what about the people here? We already live in a country where innocent people are shot to death simply for going to work, or school, or the movies. How do you be careful when you are just trying to live your life? How long before people realize the US is not any safer than anywhere else?

It makes me angry because I love my country, but I hate what’s happening to it. People would rather blame video games, sequestration, anything except the same root causes that are making this a repeat event.

DC will be fine. In my time living here we’ve been through earthquakes, the DC sniper shootings, and 9/11. Virginia Tech is just a couple of hours away, and I have many friends who were on that campus during THAT disaster as well. People here are strong and most of them are here because they genuinely love their country, even if the country mostly acts like it doesn’t give a crap about most of them.

This week I am so happy- I just got married! But I’m also really sad for my city, for my country and for those families.  This post is kind of scattered because so am I. Hopefully those 6 months in Mexico will give me some clarity.

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18 thoughts on “The Best and Worst of Times”

  1. Congrats again on getting married!!

    I hadn’t heard about the shootings yet, but that’s really heartbreaking. Hearing about all these things going on while being abroad really just makes me feel safer outside the US, and that’s sad. 🙁

  2. Honestly, I can’t pinpoint it. Yes, it’s both mental illness and the fact that guns are prevalent. But, why is it so bad here? Why is it that other people can cope and move on with their day. But, for some reason, here comes another crazy with a gun.

    Anywho, congrats on getting married. =)

  3. Congratulations on your wedding!

    I’m not American (I’m a Brit) but I do take an interest in the differences between the safety levels in America and Britain. There is a small amount of gun crime in London (knives are much more common as weapons, but it’s still low). I wonder how you feel on Americans being free to buy and own guns? Do you think there’s a link there?

    Anyway, as always, loving the blog!

    1. I definitely think that easy access to guns makes these events more likely to happen, and more likely to be deadly. Our treatment of mental illness is another big factor, but the guns are definitely a problem. People will tell you it’s their right, but what about my right not to be shot in a public place?

  4. It drives me nuts that family and friends back home keep trying to use the ‘dangers of the world’ argument to ask when I’m moving back to the US, even when stuff like this has happened in their cities.

    Congrats on the wedding and that your dad was ok… and be sure to post if you stumble across an answer for the US’s problems while you’re in Mexico!

  5. First of all congratulations on your wedding and your openness and willingness to talk about these thoughts that you are having. Having just came back from a year of living in Germany, back to the city that I also love and seeing this unravel was and is quite surreal (lack of proper word) to say the least. But like you have said the city will manage and the people are moving on. I am not sure what the solution should be for this problem to be honest, but one thing is for sure. We must realize that America is as dangerous as any other place. I still love it and will do my best to contribute in any way I can to keep this city as great as it is.

    I am glad to be back, though my own thoughts and impressions are also still scattered. Most importantly, I wish you the most trans formative, fulfilling, and clarifying of times on your journey.

  6. We had the dumblane massacre and immediately gun laws were changed in the uk. i can’t understand what is wrong with people in your government ruling to keep them. it makes me mad. i just don’t get what the hell is going through their minds.

  7. Those photos are breath-taking and its really sad to read the rest of the story.
    We do indeed to do something about the senseless shootings in this country one way or another.
    That said, we should never be cowed into living our lives in fear and traveling to places we dream of, and your resolve is indeed inspiring.
    Again, congrats on getting hitched 🙂

  8. I came here to post about how your blog was the first travel blog I ever read and how it really inspired me and made me realize that I’m more than capable seeing the world as I want to…

    But I found this post and it’s just so good. I feel the same way. People use the idea that travel dangerous as an excuse, when in actuality, you could be hurt in your backyard!

    You never cease to surprise! Love your blog so much!


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