When I separated from my now ex-husband in 2012, it was just shy of what would have been our one-year wedding anniversary. Before we married the previous year we had been together and dating for over a decade. When we separated, I moved from Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia where we had been living and into the city of Washington, D.C. where I was working as a program manager at The Phillips Collection—a place that is still near and dear to me.
That year I spent in my tiny studio apartment in Logan Circle was the most formative and restoring times of my life. It is where I first began my journey of healing from an abusive relationship, and when I first began the process of rebuilding and rediscovery.
It was difficult, sure. First of all: living in D.C. is expensive (it’s even more expensive when you’re living alone on a nonprofit arts salary). Second, while I was physically separated from an abusive partner, that didn’t stop the harassing phone calls, emails, and his general “presence” felt at every turn. Nevertheless, this time to myself and for myself was truly a special and magical time for me.
I rode my bike and walked everywhere and made it a point to explore and take advantage of everything the city had to offer—often with friends by my side helping to maintain my sanity and remind me of how important this time was for me.
My studio apartment is also where I rediscovered my love of cooking—countless hours spent in my tiny kitchen with my adorable little dachshund keeping me company (waiting for a morsel of something delicious to drop). I experimented with my own recipes and recalled ones shared within my family, hosted friends (who sat on whatever flat surface was around), and often: enjoyed an entire platter of something I created while enjoying the sights and sounds of the city experienced through my open windows, reminding myself to be grateful for the peace of mind, and safety, I felt in that moment.