I Heart DC

I’m a Northern Virginia gal, not-born, but bred (I was actually born in Hong Kong, if you were curious). My father, a career-long employee of the State Dept., had our family moving from country to country every three to four years while I was growing up. Of course, as a snot-nosed adolescent, having to pack up and leave my friends behind so often did not sit well with me. As an almost-sorta-adult with 20/20 hindsight, however, I am now exceedingly grateful for the opportunities I was able to have thanks to living abroad. That said, I knew pretty early on that I would not want a life that included such frequent upheaval once I was out on my own.

We only lived in Falls Church for four years, when I was in grades 5 – 8. Hardly long enough to say that I’m “from” here. But those formative years were enough that when my brother settled back in this area after he graduated from college, I know that I would be following suit. While most of my former classmates and colleagues who grew up in one house, one city, or even one state tout their intentions to get out of here, I don’t feel that same desire. I’m laying down my roots here, at least for the meantime, and I like it.


When I got my new job that would be starting in the city, rather than the safe suburban confines of the Beltway, I was admittedly a little apprehensive. For all my declarations of loving Falls Church and Northern Virginia, I rarely ventured inside DC city limits. Despite all of my world travels, for which I considered myself quite culturally adept and urban, I was actually a little bit scared of the city. Pretty silly, huh? As it turns out, I kinda love working in DC. My office is barely a stone’s throw from the National Mall, my commute isn’t as hellish as I thought (well, this morning was pretty terrible, but it’s not the norm), and it makes me feel… grown up.


As I said earlier this week, since it’s been so unseasonably warm, the cherry blossoms are peaking incredibly early this year. They probably won’t make it to the Cherry Blossom Festival or race, in fact. So yesterday I took the opportunity to stroll around during lunch to try to soak in some of these springtime beauties before they all blew away! I didn’t make it down to the Tidal Basin, of course, but I did get the chance to see the trees they still have on the Mall, as well as some other familiar sights.









This was taken after I offered to take a photo for a family who was on the mall, and they offered to take a photo of my in return. Apparently posing with the sakura brings out my super Asian side, haha!


If this rain (blehhh) doesn’t blow them away, I think they will be getting a little fuller and more pink over the next couple of days. If you haven’t gone out to see them yet, you should! They’re really beautiful, and they just make it feel like Spring.

What’s your favorite thing about Spring? Mine is my birthday, OBVIOUSLY, followed closely by the flowering trees.


  1. I love the flowering trees.
    I also love the way outside smells like…well, earth, and it makes me want to plant things.
    Another thing is when the tiny creatures start to sing at night.

    What I don’t love? Pollen allergies!

    • Ugh, tooooo true. Luckily my allergies haven’t been acting up too much yet, but they get really bad in late spring and over the summer. Bleh!

  2. rebeccasays:

    lovely post! not sure if you are trying to keep your work confidential, but if you are, and your lanyard is an indicator of your job, you might want to edit!

    • Haha, I didn’t even notice that! I’m not really concerned about that though. I’m not purposefully trying to keep it confidential or anything, at least until someone tells me I have to, haha!

  3. My entire family lives in Vermont, and though they mean more than anything in the world, I always knew I’d leave. And on some level, always knew I’d end up here. We came to DC for my first visit when I was 5. I think it became a special place to me then. Now, as I’m getting older and ready to have my own kids, I wish more than ANYTHING that my parents were a 30 mins drive away and not a 9 hour. ::le sigh::

    I would LOVE to hear more about the places you’ve lived! Super neat that you got to travel with your family (and even more exciting that you all ended up here).

    One of bff’s dad works for URS – and their family lived in Saudi Arabia for like 4 years before high school.

  4. Amy G.says:

    I love any post about DC! I can see the cherry blossoms and tidal basin from my office – and they look so pretty. I hope the rain doesn’t take them away too quickly.

    Spring in DC is my FAVORITE!

  5. Katesays:

    Is it terrible that Spring means the end of my cheerleading season?? I think I am so tired of watching the same routine over and over again that I just want summer practices to start so we can work on new stuff!

  6. My birthday too, in May! And I just love how pretty is it everywhere right now 🙂 It makes my heart smile!

  7. Gorgeous pictures! I love DC whenever I’m there!

  8. That rain BETTER stay away this weekend (or perhaps we’ll be toting stylish umbrellas around the zoo?)!
    Your photos are beautiful! And I loved the history of Gretchen lesson!
    I have lived north of DC all my life, and going to the city has always been just a part of life (that I guess I take for granted). I actually noticed HOW much I love DC when I was there Saturday- and need to go a lot more!
    I’m jealous of the awesome things that are within walking distance of your job. Mine is in the middle of a cow field.

  9. DC is my favorite city, too — I don’t live terribly far away but I love visiting and I LOVE it this time of year! Too bad the cherry blossoms will have peaked before the festival this year.

    My favorite thing about spring is something a previous commenter mentioned … the smell of the earth! I love the flowering trees, everything growing, the dampness in the air — I’m not much of a gardener but this time of year always inspires me. 🙂

  10. Cherry Blossoms are sooo pretty! I can’t wait to see them tonight!!

  11. I love the photos! The one of the monument is somehow awesome.

    It’s funny, when you live in a place you often don’t do all the touristy stuff. I’ve been trying to break that tradition, hah.

    As a side note, I’m oddly glad that you didn’t call it NoVa!

  12. Marceesays:

    Great + interesting bit of your history Gretchen.

    Do you or the family ever visit Hong Kong? A gorgeous, modern country.

    Nice photo w/you & the blossoms!

    Thankfully, I haven’t any spring/summer allergies.

    • The last time I was in Hong Kong was when I was in high school (living in Taiwan at the time). It’s where my mom is originally from, and I would love to go back! I can barely remember any of it even now!

  13. So fun!! I don’t know if I’ll make it down there this year but I LOVE the cherry blossoms!

  14. When it comes to spring, I love the fog/mist. Luckily, we’ve gotten quite a bit of it in the last few days. I think it’s absolutely beautiful and turns our world into something else (either mystical, magical, supernatural, mysterious, or whatever else you want).

  15. We must have worked close to each other for a short amount of time! I worked in the same area for six years but finally found a great job closer to where I live (south of the beltway!). 45 mile one way commute to 9 mile one way commute is awesome but I really miss working in DC for exactly the reasons you captured. 🙁

  16. I love the spring weather. It’s not too hot or too cold. It’s just right. You know what I mean?

    I particularly like sitting on the back porch reading or exploring different trails in the spring.

  17. 深春何处好?

    Great photos! You look so pretty posing with the sakura!

    You’re lucky to work in such a beautiful and exciting place. I think it’s great that you’ve decided to put down some roots. So many young people don’t want to — and while I can understand that, as I didn’t want to back then myself — by the time you’re my age you’ll be really glad you did. If that makes sense.

  18. Rachelsays:

    I heart DC too. We should plan a DC day.

  19. I’m visiting my parents (they live in Bethesda) this weekend. Excited that the Cherry Blossoms are going to be at their peak!

  20. The cherry blossoms look beautiful! I really need to make an effort to get downtown ASAP! Especially since the weather forecast for this weekend looks rather unfortunate and supposedly gonna blow off all the little blossoms- [un]welcome spring showers :/

  21. robinsays:

    LOVE DC, Ive only been once but cant wait to do it again!

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