WASHINGTON D.C. Guests flew in from around the U.S. and across the Pacific recently for my daughter’s wedding. I slept, the first night, on her fiancé’s sofa in his soon-to-be vacated bachelor apartment. The following afternoon, I settled into the Tabard Inn, the Dupont Circle hub where for nearly a decade my daughter spent evenings by the fireside or at the bar socializing.
Her life mirrored D.C.’s efforts to renew itself and fashion a new identity. She moved into a corner studio apartment on the sixth floor overlooking a neglected brown patch with a few forlorn trees. Over the years; it was landscaped, fenced and christened the S Street dog park.
Spinning Straw into Gold
The park has been crowded since opening day. A steel sculpture installed at the entrance bears a young woman’s etched face, a hand propped on her cheek and eyes narrowed as if scanning the passersby.
D.C.’s sidewalks thumb with college graduates who gather after work at Hank’s Oyster Bar, Buffalo Billiards and the 9:30 Club. Social groups form and reform. Friends introduce co-workers. Among them, a smart, soft-spoken young man caught my daughter’s eye.
Before long, wedding invitations went out. Okay if you must know the details, they met at work. He left to take another job, but they remained friends. After splitting up with their respective partners, they met for drinks. A kiss brushed her cheek. They began dating. As cherry trees bloomed, a velvety voice whispered in my daughter’s ear how she brightens his life.
“The dizzy dancing way you feel…”
Wedding guests descended upon the city and proceeded to make merry at dozens of venues. The legendary Old Ebbitt Grill boomed with happy voices and heartfelt toasts at the rehearsal dinner.
I read Jane Hirchfield’s poem For What Binds Us on the sustaining power of love. Her uncle made a plug for marriage by recalling how a freak snowstorm convinced him that married couples have the advantage in a crisis.
At noon the next day, my daughter arrived at the Tabard Inn in faded jeans and a hoodie, her eyes rimmed in black mascara, her hair in loose ringlets. I zipped her into a Lazaro gown that fit her like a glove.
When she turned to face me, I did a double take. The Alençon lace and ivory sash set with Swarovski crystals transformed her into a tsarina from a Russian fairytale.
She emerged from the sacristy at St. Matthew’s Cathedral on her father’s arm. The Bach cantata, Awake, calls the voice to us, resounded and a bell-like soprano voice sang Alleluia. Beneath a gilded dome, the couple vowed lifelong love. Turning to face us, they lifted everyone’s heart.
Nothing is more pleasing than the company of newlyweds. I remained a few days, loading wedding gifts into a Zip car to take to their two-story brick house, a rental in Capitol Hill with (I’m not making this up) a cherry tree in the front yard.
Before my flight, we had a final mother daughter tête-à-tête at Sushi Taro in Dupont Circle. Between glasses of Sancerre and morsels of yellow-fin tuna and barbecue eel, we recalled the blissful moments.
It was a busy celebration trip to a city whose blossoming coincided with my daughter’s.
—text and photography by Donna Peck and David Donadio.