WASHINGTON, DC, USA – December 24, 1998 – We drove down Constitution Avenue on a chilly Christmas Eve morning. An onslaught of freezing rain had hit Washington the night before, and the streets had turned into skating rinks. I carefully monitored my car’s handling as we passed the hulking Department of Commerce building.

Looming over our heads, we passed the Washington Monument on the Mall on our right, looking like a Saturn rocket, covered in scaffolding for repairs. In the distance, the dome of the Capitol rotunda grew as we approached.

“I still cannot get over how beautiful this city is,” I exclaimed, breaking the silence. “I mean, look at this!”

“I know,” she replied in a soft voice, looking out over the Mall. “It really is beautiful.”

I was suddenly excited that I lived in DC… excited, and saddened. I had grown to love my new home. An incredibly educated, sophisticated populace… thought-provoking, awe-inspiring buildings, rich with history… creepy black helicopters flying low over the Potomac… motorcades… and a fun, exciting nightlife.

I was also tremendously sad about something else… something looming in the near future… understood and unspoken between us.

We pulled into Union Station. I got out, took out her suitcase and gave her a long hug. We kissed, and her hair and her perfume smelled so good, I didn’t want to let go, despite the line of cars waiting to get past. We said our goodbyes and she carefully picked her way over the ice to the station as I drove away.

This woman… so sweet, so nice, so funny, so easygoing. I pondered how we had met, all the things that had happened between us as I drove back through the capital. Of all the women I had known, I felt the most peace, the least strife, with her, and totally at ease.

It’s a classic tale of boy meets girl, they become friends, boy wants girl, girl doesn’t want boy for numerous logical reasons, girl eventually changes her mind, they fall in love…

…and then he leaves for the opposite coast.

How would we do this? I wondered. Can we do this? A cross-continent relationship? It wasn’t like a short commuter flight or Metroliner stop. It was a gulf of four timezones and five hours by plane. How would this work out? Am I a fool?

The chapter about Washington DC is drawing to a close. The reader finishes the paragraph, turns the page, and starts the new chapter… the one about life in Southern California.

Next: Chapter 9.

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