Friday, September 9, 2011

10 Years in Washington: What I Didn't Know

When I left Tennessee, I thought I'd live in Washington just a year or so. That's what we all say.

Then one year turns to three, and three turns to seven, and the next thing you know a decade has passed and you're taking a picture of your Tennessee drivers license with your camera phone before you surrender it to the D.C. DMV, or the State of Virginia, or in my case, Maryland...cause they won't let you keep it, and what good is it anyway, least you have photo proof of who you used to be.

Ten years ago today, I arrived in Washington with just the things I could fit into a car. I was 24, a young, certainly immature, 24.  My friends back home where getting married and starting families, and I would spend the next few years kissing marines in Adams Morgan, singing karaoke in Alexandria, eating grilled cheeses in the a.m. at Tune Inn, and living life like the co-ed I never was at UT. Lots of people sewed their oats, wild or otherwise, in college. I had Washington. 

I am among the fortunate few who got/get to really stretch youth, play freely, even a little recklessly, through the 20s and bounce into the 30-something years having spent a good chunk of young adulthood living in the true spirit of have-cake-will-eat-it-too.  

To me, turning 30 or moving out to the 'burbs wasn't the decline of, well, anything...just the start of a new life stage.

What I didn't know, ten years ago, was what a gift being a 20-something in Washington would be.

I didn't know that I would find a bridesmaid on the ladies room floor of Old Ebbitt Grill, and a husband on the internet.

I never dreamed I'd be invited to the White House to watch a president sign a bill, or wave to the Queen of England from the Front Lawn, or see the Pope drive by in his Mobile from my office window.

I didn't expect the go-to song  for metro travel on my iPod to become Merle Haggard's Big City because I couldn't imagine I'd ever tire of the pace and the pomp that comes with working in Washington.

I never thought I'd miss living in a small, country town when I moved to D.C., but I did.

I never thought I'd miss living in D.C. when I moved to the 'burbs, but I do.

I wouldn't learn for years that the handful of loyal, like-minded friends I'd keep would serve me far, far better than the thousands of glossy business cards I'd collected.

I didn't know that I would realize it wasn't the fault of a big city for my being single or lonely or a renter or out-of-shape...that eventually I would count myself lucky to have spent those years camaflauged with others, like me, who were still just trying to find contentment.

"I'll be here for a a year or so" has turned into a decade, a time in my life that I suspect I will always recall as one part frivolous and one part formative, but always, in the spirit of Washington.....

pretty monumental.


Dee Stephens said...

I was thinking about you last night during the President's speech.
I told Brad... I was there!
My 20's in Reno and Vegas are times I think about often as well. I was on my walk this morning thinking about this one breakfast restaurant that me and my friend Dawn use to go to in Mammoth Mountain.
So stupid...but so real.
I need to do a post about things like that.
Places I remember and think of often. Happy Places.

Whitney and the Preppy Puppies said...

Yay you! I love this post. :-)

Erin said...

What a lovely little DC story! My cousin moved to DC over five years ago saying the same thing. For the past three years she's even debated leaving to attend grad school. But she just can't seem to leave DC. I've always thought it would be a sort-of magical place to live. Everyone I've known to move there never seems to leave! Happy 10 years to you and Washington!

Kori Donahue said...

Great post honey! I love your photos. I'm dying to get there. Have a great weekend doll! Kori xoxo

Whitney of Washington said...

This is WONDERFUL! Thanks so much for sharing your DC Journey! My two years here have flown by. I can only imagine 8 more would do the same. Happy "DC-versary"!

Hines-Sight said...

What a fabulous post. Love it, and I loved your love story. Leigh

TM said...

I so needed to read this. <3

Tricia said...

Met my sweetie online as well. I guess you can really find love in all places. I love this post, and the last photo of DC is just gorgeous. The monuments always take my breath away.

Laural @ Being Healthier said...

AMAZING post, I couldn't stop reading! I am about to turn 29 ... 1 more year of the "20 something"... I'm spending my bday exploring Napa and Sonoma Valley and I couldn't imagine a better time in my life to do so. :-)

I spent a year living outside DC with my sister post undergrad and I miss the area!!

Cherish @ Southern Soul Mates said...

It's funny how life many unexpected things and opportunities to grow if we'll just be willing. Loved this post!


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