Morven Park, nostalgia, and escaping “Restoring Honor”

Yesterday, I skipped out on Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally in favor of family time. From what I’ve heard, hundreds of people arrived at the National Mall at 6:00 a.m. I assume the metro was even more packed than it is on July 4. I take my hat off to all attendees for enduring humidity, crowds, and poor cell phone reception.

At 11, I met up with my aunt and uncle in Vienna, and we spent the afternoon at Morven Park, which was the home of former Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis. What a name he had….

From an onlooker’s point of view, the property looks like a mini White House. Though it was built in the late 1700’s, Westmoreland Davis purchased the mansion in 1903 and stayed there until his death. It’s said that he and his late wife, Marguerite Inman Davis, haunt the premises.

Because I grew up visiting San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House every single time guests came into town, I know what it’s like to tour a haunted historical house.

I definitely enjoyed Morven Park more than the Winchester Mystery House. For starters, the Winchester house has no original pieces of furniture. There’s also a lot of speculation regarding the owner’s decision to arbitrarily build 160 rooms into her home. We’re told that she kept expanding the house to appease the angry spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles, but no one really knows if this is true or not. It’s said that she used to host dances and parties for ghosts (she had a seance room, too), but because she was such a recluse and never socialized, there’s no way of knowing what she was really like.

Winchester Mystery House (San Jose, CA)

With that, I appreciated the authenticity of Morven Park. Everything in the house actually belonged to Westmoreland Davis and his wife, and the tour guide really knew her stuff. Not only could she tell me everything about Davis, but she was well versed on his large family history.

Before going through the house, my aunt, uncle, and I visited the civil war campgrounds, which was totally and utterly silent.

“It’s because of all the people that died here,” my uncle said.

He has a point. In the camp area, there were no bugs, birds, squirrels, or noises of any kind. As some would say, “the silence was deafening.”

There seem to be lots of civil war trails in northern Virginia. When the weather cools down, I’m going to go to all these places and get a feel for everything that happened. Gettysburg would be awesome as well, but that’s far away.

It was relaxing to spend two days with my family and get away from the state of insanity in D.C. I’m feeling like I did when I was a freshman at the University of Arizona. I missed my childhood friends, California identity, siblings, and dog. Thankfully, the homesickness faded after the first semester. By sophomore year, I had no interest whatsoever in returning home, which had nothing left to offer me.

Now, I miss being a wildcat. A lot. I can’t seem to let go of my former life. As a freshman, I missed Scotts Valley, my hometown. Today, I pine for Tucson, my college town. I miss reading nonfiction books on Heritage Hill, where I met some awesome open-minded people who loved sleeping on the grass in between classes. I miss bumping into countless friends as I strolled through campus. I miss getting to know each and every one of my professors. I miss having long winded conversations with the older staff of the UofA Bookstore at the beginning of each semester.

I miss Wednesday evenings spent at Cactus Moon, Thursday nights at O’Malley’s, Gentle Ben’s, and Maloney’s, and Fridays at my friend Matt’s house, the home base for our social network. I miss the feeling of a new crush. I miss having a crush. I miss watching comedies with Carolyn and Jessica. I miss spending hours on end laughing with Kendra, Dyanna, and Angela. I miss 3 a.m. trips to Nico’s Taco shop. I miss goofing around with Jazmine, Luke, and Anna. I miss working in a high energy newsroom as well as the humorous people that occupy it. I miss being told by Adam W., one of my best male friends of all time, that I’m his favorite girl in the entire world. I miss talking politics and swapping snarky remarks with Dan Greenberg. More than anything, I miss my classmates, acquaintances, friends, and co-workers.

Last night, I explained all of this to Crystal, my best friend of 13 years who blogs about her adventures at optometry school. We miss our respective undergraduate lives, even though we know we’re headed for incredible things. She’s going to be an eye doctor, I’m going to be a nonfiction author someday. Until then, we’re blessed and cursed with the path of uncertainty. We know where we’re going, but we’re not sure of the detours ahead. We also have no idea who we’ll encounter. At this point, I’m dying to meet new friends and even potential frenemies/foes.

Whenever I’m feeling especially sad about leaving my friends behind, I think back to May, June, and July of this year. I was ready to get out of Tucson because I felt that I’d overstayed my welcome and had had so many good experiences and memories that it was selfish to crave more. It’s also worth noting that staying in Tucson would have stunted my personal growth. There was nothing more to gain from the city, and I’m well aware of that now. I just miss what used to be.

Pretty soon, D.C. will feel like home, just as Arizona eventually did. When I first moved to Tucson in 2006, I remember complaining that it was the ugliest town I’d ever seen. The roads were poorly constructed, and it seemed like everyone either had their car or house broken into (against all odds, neither of these things ever happened to me, and I left my car at Northpointe Apartments, which was nicknamed Knifepoint, for four weeks unattended). I cried at the thought of having to live in a state with no grass or redwoods. Eventually, I adapted to and embraced everything I disliked about Arizona, so I’m hoping I’ll do the same in D.C.

While I absolutely love this new city, I’m having some health issues with the humidity, which gives me severe migraines. I suppose this is normal, being that I lived in a dry heat for 22 years and now have to adjust to a humid climate.

As my roommate says, “it’s much easier to bake than feel steamed.” Raised primarily in Atlanta, she also likes to remind me, “we southerners are not slow. The humidity just sucks all the energy out of us.” I’m starting to see how that may be the case.

Good things will happen in time. Like I told Crystal, nothing worthwhile is ever rushed.

On the bright side, my blog just got accepted to the directory and live feed. I’m excited and hoping to get more page views. I not-so-secretly want to be the next Julie Powell, a food blogger turned author, but so do billions of other people.

I can’t wait for the graphic designer to create an icon for my blog, although I’m stumped about what she should do. Maybe I’ll suggest she include a redhead stick figure or something. If you have any ideas, please send them my way.