The Torpedo Factory with my Friendy Wendy



Wendy and I have been friends for (gulp!) 30 years. We became friends in high school, but became even closer after we graduated. This is somewhat surprising, because if you were to create a Venn diagram of our friendship, there would be very little that would go into that part in the middle where the two circles overlap.

For example, Wendy loves the outdoors and hiking. I love the indoors and sitting on my couch. Once I ventured one little toe into her side of the Venn diagram when I went for a walk with her in Great Falls Park. Anyone who knows me will understand what a huge stretch that was for me. And how much I’d really have to like someone to go into the woods with them without being blindfolded and having a gun pointed to the back of my head.

It was a boiling hot summer day. Wendy wore what normal people wear to go hiking in the high heat of a Virginia summer. Petrified of ticks, I showed up wearing jeans with socks pulled up over the hems, a long sleeve shirt, my hair pulled back so tightly into a ponytail that I looked like I just had an aggressive facelift, and a baseball hat. It took every ounce of self-control I could muster not to take a baseball bat with which to ward off errant bears and rattlesnakes. It is to her credit and a testament to her good nature that she did not start cackling in my face when she saw me, but merely gently questioned my choice of apparel with a slight grin tugging at the corner of her mouth. It’s also to her credit and a testament to her good nature that since then, she’s never asked me to go hiking again. Instead, over the many years of our friendship we’ve seen a lot of movies together, visited art galleries, and spent hours and hours talking…

Wendy is a kindergarten teacher, which puts her right up on a pedestal with the other two categories of people I revere: nurses and social workers. She teaches in a school with a population predominantly made up of recent immigrants. In my book, that puts her on an extra little shelf right at the top of that pedestal. She does so much for others every single day that I can’t write about, because it would embarrass her. Suffice it to say, I think the world of her.

Over the weekend we took my kids to The Torpedo Factory:

The Torpedo Factory is located right on the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria. It used to be – (surprisingly enough!) – a torpedo factory from 1918-1923. After that it served as a munitions storage facility. In 1975 it was transformed into an art center with three levels of open studios and galleries. There’s something quite delightful about a factory for producing weapons evolving into a space where art is created instead.

You can wander through the studios and watch artists at work. They’re usually very happy to answer questions or talk about their art. Every inch of the interior is devoted to art. There is a papier mâché pachyderm perched on a ledge, friezes decorating the outside of the curved stairwell, and under the staircase in one of the treads is a lighted ledge which houses an array of miniature sculptures.

If you’re feeling inspired, you can sign up for one of many Art League classes. Finally, you can cap off a lovely art-filled afternoon with a bite to eat at the Bread & Chocolate café.

My kids got a little too jacked up on bread and chocolate and were overly boisterous on the way back to Arlington. Wendy and I were right in the middle of a serious conversation when I finally snapped and pulled the car over to squawk at the kids in a completely undignified manner. If I had witnessed this fit of apoplexy, I’m sure I would have snickered. But remember, Wendy is a kind person. She politely pretended that it was perfectly normal to threaten your kids that they would have to hoof it back to Arlington if you so much as heard another peep from them. As soon as I was done snarling at them and had pulled back onto the road, she picked up the thread of our conversation as if nothing had even happened. That’s my Friendy Wendy.

5 thoughts on “The Torpedo Factory with my Friendy Wendy

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