Arlington, VA

The following was written by the Anderson/Palmer family, which has lived in the Clarendon area for the past few years.

Clarendon, this year, you are our Valentine.

By you, I mean the managers, staff, store clerks, baristas, and kitchen assistants that make your establishments run. The ones who go above and beyond to ensure that our family, which includes a severely autistic, nonverbal young teen, has the space and ability to experience normal life, as a normal family, at local restaurants, coffee shops, and stores.

We are a very small family that moved here several years ago. We live, work, and play in this community. You have probably seen us around, shopping at Market Common, walking through Lyon Village, or dining outdoors in the summer at all of our favorite spots. Or perhaps you’ve seen evidence that we are around – a rubber frog or stuffed toy puffin flying through the air may ring a bell. It is no secret that our young teen is quite the socialite who adores being out amongst people!

Daily life with severe autism is challenging, which few understand. We know that you cannot fully get it unless you live this. We love your kindnesses, just as they are. We are amazed every day, by the kindness and understanding shown us, by the unsung and often unnoticed people who work in the establishments that make Clarendon…Clarendon! Today, we want to tell you, we notice everything. We love you all!

We specifically want to give a shout-out to Delhi Club – Mir, Himal, and Yadav – you have made a second home for us there from day one, as restaurateurs, as the best of friends, and as a second family.

Northside Social — you were our first introduction to Clarendon and that day, we decided we could be very happy and very accepted living here. Randi, Karin, Isaac, and the entire cast of “Noso regulars”– you all rock! Even every Noso customer we have encountered has been representative of all the genuine, kind, and “real” people that call Clarendon and Arlington home. We are happy to bask in the company of all of you. (Special shoutout to the unknown woman who sat across from us outside this summer, noticed our predicament, and offered to go inside and get our coffees and desserts for us! We love you. We have not forgotten.)

Liberty Tavern — shout-out to the best and most caring kitchen staff and wait staff. There has never been a better kitchen crew anywhere.

Circa — it was at least a full year before we were able to convince our autistic teen to try Circa. Sarah, Eddie, Josh, Chris, Heather, Seth, Kevin and Gabriel (Angel) and every staff member … you all are the definition of a large team that is so in tune that you have at times just blown us away with your spontaneous command of unexpected autism moments and your absolute class and professionalism 100% every time, all the time. Without fail. It has not always been easy for you, but you always make it easy for us.

Sephora — you all rock! Way to get our back under duress! And we love the way you always find those little rubber frogs. Rougue status all the way!

Whole Foods — you have been the unwitting recipient of some very autistic moments, and we are eternally grateful for your employees’ unflappable cool. Shout-out to Joseph!

Silver Diner — our first breakfast after we moved to Clarendon was with you! Our belongings were still three days away from here, and were we ever happy to have you so near! Your staff is amazing, even when we are overwhelmed and are very irritable customers. You have put up with us and been so wonderful, that we can’t even begin to list all that you have been for us! Special shout-out to Ariel for knowing, by heart, our young teen’s favorite dishes!

This Is Fine Coffee — we are new to you, and your acceptance has been graceful and lovely… we look forward to many many more visits. Coffee is very important for the adults in this household!

Loft/Ann Taylor — the sales and management at these two stores at Market Common continue to be wonderful with the autism aspect of clothes shopping. Autism and clothing is a very different experience and these employees have shown all the dignity and kindness we could ever want, and this has made clothes shopping a beautiful experience for our teen.

South Moon Under — your employees’ grace under fire and their creative problem-solving have made our visits a breeze.

Ambar — from the first week you were open, you have always extended so much hospitality and generosity of spirit toward our small family each time we are there, and this has meant a lot to us.

TTT/Buena Vida — so lovely and fun, and a staff of genuinely caring souls. You have been tremendously accommodating, each time, and you have even once accommodated WAY beyond what could ever be required. Yes, we know what you did that night, and we thank you so much.

Trader Joe’s — we do not interact as much with your employees, as we seldom need to bring our teen in; but when we have, the experience has always been good. A lack of difficulty is always it’s own shout-out!

Kebab Bazaar — each time we visit, you have done so much to entice our teen to try new foods. We appreciate all that patience and gentleness more than you know!

And finally, CVS. We cannot leave this love letter without a huge hug for everyone and the management of CVS Clarendon. The employees are just amazing. The manager is just amazing. There is not enough space in this letter to extoll the virtues of our local CVS.

These local businesses have gone above and beyond, many, many times over, to let us just enjoy our daily lives as a normal family (even though we are not), when shopping and dining out. Whether it is accommodating our preferred tables at Delhi or Circa or picking up dropped frog toys at Sephora, their hospitality offers a cocoon of community and kindness while we navigate the day-to-day challenges of life with a severely autistic young adult. We are thankful for this community, where we can step into these fine places and be welcomed with endless amounts of understanding, genuine friendliness, and lots of shared laughter.

Be our Valentine, Clarendon. Not just for your curated array of boutiques, your new and old restaurants, or your many coffee shops. What we love about you, Clarendon, is the kindness and humanity of the very people who make up these establishments. The managers, store clerks, servers, kitchen staff, the list goes on. You have made Clarendon a home for us.

Thank you, local Clarendon businesses, for making us fall in love with Clarendon a little more each day.

Laurel Anderson
Christine Palmer
Caelyn Palmer, Esq.
Sunny Rose Anderson

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