A Belle Leaves Brooklyn: Part III

d planned to go to church Sunday morning, but I was too tired (and too hungover) from the night before. Plus, I had to meet with the Gorgeous god Among Men. I'm watching the live service of my church from back Home online when I get a text from Jason. We're going for brunch downtown at Café Asia (www.cafeasia.com). I invite him to come see Park Place with me since I plan to swing by the venue after we eat. Ace and I pick up Jason and head over to the restaurant. It's closed. At two o'clock on a Sunday? Labor Day Weekend? In the heart of DC with all these tourists everywhere? That's.... odd. I try my best not to say "this would never happen in New York." We walk around the corner to Lotus (www.lotusloungedc.com). For the longest, every time I've talked to Jason, he's mentioned how dope this spot is and how packed the Tuesday night party is. It's closed too. We try another spot. It's closed. Finally, I can't take it anymore. "This would never happen in New York," I blurt.

I expect Jason and Ace to explode, but they actually concede that this is one of the downfalls to DC. Too many of the good, downtown restaurants cater to the working political crowd during the week. On weekends, they aren't open evidently.

It's too late to get a real meal and meet the Gorgeous god Among Men on-time. We grab seafood appetizers from Café Soliel (www.cafesoleil.net) the only place that's seems to be open, and head over to meet Joe.

A consummate professional, he's waiting for us on the corner when we walk up to make sure we don't get lost. He looks like a god, of course. When I shake his hand, my palm is sweaty. That's never happened before. What in the hell is wrong with me?

He shows us around the four-story restaurant/ lounge which is still under construction. It opens in thirty days, but it's only half-done at best. No flooring, no paint on the walls, no furniture. I thank God that Ace, an interior designer, is here to visually place everything together. She's practically giddy as the god points out what will go where. All I can see is a big mess and a lot of empty space. She sees a blank slate beaming with possibilities.

The god leads us up the stairs and over to the fourth floor window and points. "Take a look at that!"

Now it all makes sense. The floor-to-ceiling windows face Franklin Square Park, which is full of leafy trees and a huge fountain. The view is amazing, just beautiful. It reminds me of the scene from the Time Warner building back Home.

He's giddy now too. The god walks us to another corner, and points out a long window that shows the strip down the 14th Street Corridor. It's gorgeous. He leads Ace and Jason through the rest of the club, excitedly pointing out this and that, but my mind is somewhere else. I think I miss DC. I hated this place when I lived here. Hated it! Now... it's changed. There's stuff to do now. Beautiful places to go and see. And all my ride-or-die friends are here. Why did I leave again? Maybe I should come back.

To live.

I catch up to Jason, Ace and the god while they're discussing the venue's opening. They've got three shifts of workers on this project so the club will open on time. They're aiming to bring in John Legend for an acoustic show the same weekend. They're going to look for furniture and dishes next week. Ace is about to burst with joy. She's been debating moving to New York because that's where all the interior design action is, but it seems her hometown might be coming up with enough to keep her happy and busy and creative. Park Place gives her hope.

The god walks us out, mentions he's going to meet up with his wife before he heads back to work later that night. *sigh* I knew he had to be married- or seriously flawed. Nothing that fine stays on the market this long with a serious commitment or a serious dysfunction. I'm glad he's married. All that fine should not go to waste.

We had down the Georgetown waterfront, thinking we'll head to Sequoias (www.arkrestaurants.com). Every Sunday, the hundreds of who's who DC folks gather there for drinks and dinner. It's closed for some private party with a deejay that's playing Prince's entire catalogue. We head to Tony & Joe's (www.dcseafood.com) instead and take a table with a spectacular view of the Potomac and the Kennedy Center. We stay long enough to catch the sunset over the water and by the time we leave, the bar in the front is packed with all the usual Tony & Joe's patrons, plus all the people who wanted to go to Sequoia's and couldn't get in. There are men-folk everywhere. Tall, gorgeous ones.

I walk through the crowd and bump into several guys that I knew when I lived here. They are all grown up and looking good. No better, than good. Great! They're happy to see me. I haven't changed a bit. Am I here for the weekend or back for good? It's a shame that I'm not, I hear more than one time. I get a lingering hug from a guy I vibed with all through college but never explored. "You should come home more often," he tells me. "It would be good to see more of you."

Hmm. Would it?

Just before midnight, Jason, Ace, Tariq and I head to K Street Lounge (www.kstreetdc.com). Dominique from Avenue (www.avedc.com) on Friday is staying outside and lets us pass the long line. It looks like a video set inside. A big white room with flat screen monitors and people everywhere. Some guy is standing on a table in the elevated VIP section with his arms spread like Jesus on the cross. He has a bottle of Moet in one hand, which he keeps swigging from. Then he turns in circles. He reminds me of the guy who declared himself a golden god in Almost Famous.

It takes 15 minutes to make it through the crowd. As I look around, I feel like we are the oldest people in the room. This has gotta be college night. It's too packed and too hot to move around the club, so we find the closest air vent and stand near it. After 15 minutes, we debate heading to the next spot, but then I hear it. Finally!


I don't know what band it is and I don't care. (Tariq tells me later that's its UCB feat. Raheem DeVaughan). I. GO. CRAZY!!! Whenever I get homesick in New York, I listen to go-go on some streaming music site my girl (also from MD) sent to me. But listening on a computer and a booming system are entirely different things. The congos have infected my hips and my rear. That groove is running through my shoulders and my head. Completely sober, I throw my hands above my head and I dance till I drip sweat. Eff trying to be cute.

Jason, a New Yorker, who despite living in DC for a decade, is unmoved. He's ready to go. (To his credit, there were way too many young, drunk dudes in that spot, dancing too hard. A fight was going to break out at any second.)

We head to Lima down the block. There have got to be more people outside than in. The Too Cute Assistant from Love is outside and she waves us in. It occurs to be then that I haven't paid to get in anywhere all weekend. How much are these places charging?

When Jason tells me, my mouth drops. $40 for WOMEN?!!!! $60 for dudes?!!!! Are you fucking kidding me? In DC? Oh, hell no. Jason adds that it's Labor Day Weekend, as if this justification makes any sense.

Lima is uncomfortably packed. It's a super-sexy, four-level space, but I can't peep the décor for the people. We do a quick walk through the crowd and we're all ready to go. I'd be pissed if I'd paid to get in.

After three days of partying, I am too exhausted to hit another spot. Tariq drops Jason off first and as I hug him good-bye, I know it's the last time I'll see him for awhile. He's shown me a great weekend, proven beyond any doubt that DC is not the bored-to-tears city I remember. I'm thankful for the fun weekend, but I'm a little sad too. It's like he's shown me what my hometown has to offer, the life I could have enjoyed had if I'd stayed.

But I didn't. I don't live here anymore. As the train pulls out of Union Station Monday night, I feel homesick. We haven't even hit the Maryland border yet. DC's not NY, but it is home. It's Home too.

In the five years, I've been gone, for the first time I have serious doubts about my decision to leave. I spot Love out the train window and I finally give a voice to what I've been thinking all weekend:

"Maybe I shouldn't have left."

** please comment, that is if the option is available (it’s not always). When no one says anything, I think no one’s reading (the view number at the top is not accurate, I’ve learned. there are LOTS of you reading apparently) or that you’re not feeling it. More important, I get ideas for other blogs off of the responses. Be my muse, please!!!!

if you’re too shy to post, you can always reach me at ABelleinBrooklyn@honeymag.com

Next Up: either Sept. 11: I Didn’t Forget