Last year when I returned from my first visit to DC; a visit where I spent most of my time with people I adore and the rest of the time watching Scandal, being a tourist and eating brownie brittle, I decided that it wouldn’t be my last time there. My original plan was to come back around September this year, perhaps spend my birthday getting day drunk with familiar faces and stuffing my face with smoked meats. But then I began missing the city and the people so much so that I brought my trip forward to May and I just got back from a 10-day trip that’ll bring a smile to my face every time I think about it in the months until my next visit. Because, bitch, I am coming back.

I actually didn’t take that many photos while I was out there. I was too busy laughing, working, bonding, shopping, drinking, trying to figure out how to keep cool without exposing my nether regions, eating, screaming Taylor Swift into a microphone, making inappropriate comments, hanging out with a very cool doorman, carting my organic spinach from one Airbnb to the next, figuring out how to pack nine candles into my hand luggage, pretending I didn’t have to go back to London and loving every sun-drenched moment of my time away. My iPhone came in handy and that’s where most of these snaps came from.

Anyway, enjoy while I plot my return.

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Jesus be a week of uninterrupted sleep.

I am tired.

I am also in DC.

I was one of fifteen or so passengers on the outbound flight. I stretched my legs out over three seats and fell asleep before takeoff, waking only as the wheels left the tarmac and London fell away in a haze of gloom and sheeting rain. I slept five hours, missing airplane breakfast and rendering myself deaf to the pleas of the flight manager that I pull down my window shade. I momentarily woke again to him leaning across my seat to close it for me. I don’t exactly what I looked like, but I was sans makeup and my mouth was very likely hanging open, drool collecting very attractively in one corner of my lips. Of this, he said nothing. He had kind eyes and an impeccable shape up and brought me a turkey and gouda sandwich and some ginger ale.

~

Rocky is still here. Just. My sister informed me from across the Atlantic that he had a visit to the emergency vet a few nights ago because of a nasty wheeze which turned out to be a chest infection. To love a creature so wholly and watch him suffer is something with which I am struggling. But the vet tells me that there is no reason to let him go yet, to put him out of what I suspect is at the very least, a lukewarm form of misery. Every time I prepare myself to say goodbye, he pulls through and gives me another few weeks of worry-laced happiness. And I am thankful. Perhaps this time, though, the cage will be one half quieter when I get home.

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The day we landed in Tunisia, there was a horrific terror attack in Tunis. We were far removed—in a hotel by the sea—but the reverberations of the horror reached us and the sadness was not far behind. It felt almost wrong to be relaxing and for a while, the few of us in the hotel walked around with sombre faces while discreet but prevalent extra security was put in place to put us at ease. We received more than a few frantic calls and messages from loved ones who wanted to know we were safe (thanks for checking up on me, guys) but after that, we hit the brick wall of helplessness; where there is nothing left to do but say a prayer or twelve for the families of the lost and say over again how people like the perpetrators deserve nothing but hellfire, repeating to ourselves how does this keep happening?

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My work phone, which I check maybe 700 times a day.

When I step out of the office, on the days I am there, after a full day of work, the sky is milky, often struggling to be blue and the temperature has not yet bottomed out. When I step off the train and start the short walk home from the station, darkness is daubing the sky with its inky fingerprints. In another few weeks, Spring will arrive in earnest in all its bright, welcoming, seven-in-the-evening lightness and I can finally stop wishing for days when the SAD lamp can stay in its drawer.

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Cooking is time consuming. I think this even as I am doing it; slicing vegetables, browning chicken, dipping my pinky finger in my giant tub of sugar-free peanut butter while I wait for my black beans to simmer. This time, I think to myself as I baste the pork shoulder for the twentieth time, could be spent writing. Or sleeping. Or marathoning 48 Hours Mystery which I now affectionately refer to as my murder programmes. Cooking is time consuming. But rewarding. Knowing where the food I eat comes from and how it has been prepared has made a great impact on my body; I am sleeping better, my joints ache less and I have the kind of energy that means I am often awake before my alarm, like some kind of godawful morning person.

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My brother is getting married and the first of his two weddings is less than seven weeks away. I watch him on the nights he is home as he peruses his to-do lists and checks off an item here or adds one there. There is so much to do and we are all in this; handling websites, corralling guests who have not seen fit to RSVP, sending measurements to dressmakers for the creation of traditional outfits. There are disagreements over weave (and how I refuse to have it in my head, wedding or not) and grand plans for a far-flung honeymoon and I watch as my brother takes it all within his stride and I will wash his plates or roast his chicken because I cannot imagine what it is like to bear the twin responsibilities of a fiancée and not one but two weddings on the same shoulders that must carry a demanding career and the plans needed for taking that career to another continent. These are the little things.

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