Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Hello Virginia Beach!

Goodbye Columbia. Goodbye Arlington. Goodbye Clarendon, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Goodbye Teta and Jeddo's house. Goodbye Folkestone Way. Goodbye friendly Starbucks, Afghan cuisine and Corner Bakery. Goodbye Georgetown and familiar streets. Good day December 24th, 2014. We are headed to the Beach. Hello Virginia Beach; here we come again!

When we first discovered VA Beach, JR was still young; very young. It was Christmas 2010 when we found we could get a room at the beach during winter for a fraction of what it would otherwise cost us in the high season. With no family that celebrates Christmas in town, we decided to head there for a mini-vacation. It was a good decision.

Although the drive took a little longer than we expected, the destination was worth the journey. It was quiet, secluded, deserted. The hotel was empty. The staff was friendly. And the room upgraded. For under a $100, tax included, we got an ocean view, balcony, king room with a whirlpool! We also got a lot more than that. We got a chance to be away from the crowds, the noise, the errands, the usual. We got to discover a new town, lay back, do nothing and forge for food!

While we had planned our drive and our stay, packed the diapers and the potty seat, the snow suit and the swimming suits, the eight grain milk and the healthy treats, we did not think about our meals. It had not occurred to us that life changes pace on Christmas Day! The hotel restaurant was closed, as were all the other restaurants in this otherwise bustling town. The pharmacy was closed, the convenience store was closed, even the gas station store was closed. People were on holiday! We had no food, but we had phones and internet. We looked around. A few miles down the street, we found a Starbucks; breakfast was taken care of! A few miles further we found a supermarket; our worries were over, or so we thought! They were cleaned out!!! We managed a sandwich for lunch and picked out cold cuts and fruit for dinner. A day old loaf of bread, some water, and a few packaged snacks lay in our basket, and a first-ever tantrum lay in our future.

Up until that day JR had been an angel of a child, relatively speaking, so we did not see it coming. We were not prepared, we were not armed. We had a bag full of groceries and were headed to the car, that's when it happened. She saw something and beckoned towards it. We took her there. She played with it. We watched her. She grew more fascinated by it. We grew impatient. She wanted to stay longer. We wanted to go. We came head to head for the first time. She threw herself on the floor, raised her voice in a scream and made her eyes well up with tears. We were dazed; what had just happened? This is a girl who usually leaves when asked once. She was now having a complete fit over being asked the same. She had to be carried out the store and calmed down in the car. We had come to see a new side of our little one, a side we will grown more familiar with over the years. But that was not the only surprise that JR had in store for us on that trip.

It was later that same day that JR took her very first steps, holding on to the wall heater with one hand and to the ottoman with the other. We were not watching at first, she had been standing by the balcony door looking at the water drifting in and out. When she had come closer to the bed, that's when our attention got diverted from above her head level towards her. She had actually taken a few steps and was bound on doing more. Back and forth she went steadying herself on whatever she can grip: the blanket, the curtain, the glass, the couch, the desk. She squealed in delight at her new-found ability and we cheered her on. It was definitely a year of firsts! It was on New Year's Eve in another hotel room in Arlington, the Hyatt, with Grandma watching that JR took off walking unassisted. She was five days away from turning One.

Virginia Beach was good to us in 2010 and so we returned in 2011. We roomed the same hotel and dined at the same hibachi restaurant, but we had wisened about Christmas Day meals and came prepared. In 2012 we were all set on doing it again but when my due date drew closer and my bed rest condition grew worser we moved our winter getaway a little closer. Instead of logging the four plus hour drive to the Beach we decided to head out for a couple of hours to Charlottesville. December 2013 was spent in Beirut surrounded by family and friends. And here we are with 2014 almost done.

The hotel is again the Courtyard Virginia Beach Oceanfront/North. The room has a balcony and a view. The rate is still under a $100. The upgrade is coming. The fun is beginning. The drive has not yet started, but we will soon depart. Good afternoon Beach; it's good to see you again.

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