Portland has its virulent bikers, its oddball coffee shops and its fleece hoodies.
Virginia has...other things. Some of them make me smile, and some of them, like PDX's crazy bikers who occasionally take their verbal frustrations out on those of us who still rely on fossil fuels, might be an acquired taste.
Valet Parking: It's everywhere. At my gym. At the grocery store. Not a fancy grocery store, mind you, just the local Giant. But, in the event you can't be bothered to find a parking spot in the expansive parking lot, there is a team of valet parkers at the ready.
Culture: It's everywhere too. Our new town is a mishmash of people from all over the world. My son's new best friend, across the street, is the son of Lithuanian diplomats. You have no idea how long it took me to extract that information.
"Where did you say they were from?"
"Mom, I told you. He's from his country."
"Yes, but what is that country called?"Yesterday I sent Child #2 over with cookies and he returned home bearing an enormous bar of Lithuanian chocolate. Mystery solved!
My husband, who is coaching Child #2's soccer team remarked there are at least five different languages spoken on the sidelines. "And I understand them all," added Child #2. "Okay, most of them," he amended when cross-examined on the verity of that particular statement.
Traffic: It's bad. The kind of bad that, after three weeks here, already has me studying Google Maps for alternate routes and planning trips at nonpeak hours.
Checked out the Lincoln Monument, walked the sad granite processional of names that is the Vietnam Memorial (made slightly surreal when I realized my children understood that war more from the Vietnamese perspective, after our recent visit to Vietnam, than they did from that of the American one) and ate BBQ to the accompaniment of live music.
We were home by 8:00, in plenty of time for kid bedtimes. "Can we just do that, go into the city and see cool stuff whenever we want?" my daughter asked.
"Yes, absolutely," I told her.
Like the DJ'd coffee shops and world class food carts that made me fall for Portland, I'm discovering this area's charms. Who knows...maybe I'll fall in love with McLean too.