Choosing the District

Note: This was originally published on my old blog on 1/11/11

I am blessed in this life. Its something I’m reminded of every day. Many people live their whole lives wondering “what if…?” In many cases, circumstances outside their control held them back from seeing their dreams through.

It was August of 2007. I was currently studying to be a teacher of social studies and had spent the last school year in mind-numbly boring credential courses. To say I was in a rut would be an understatement. But I had been given an opportunity. My whole life I dreamed of moving to DC. At the time, I couldn’t articulate why.
It wasn’t until a few years after settling here did my mother remind me. Sometime in the mid-nineties, I had traveled to DC with my fifth grade class. I hold some memories of that trip. I can see myself waiting in line for the White House and slipping in the rain. Then my mother falling asleep in the House gallery during a live session. I can’t really blame her for that, however. It was probably the only time we sat down the whole week and being around a hundred fifth graders is exhausting. At some point I turned to her and announced, “Mom, I’m going to live here some day.” She said she initially brushed it off, as I was about eleven at the time. But she realized later that I was totally serious and she worried a little. I have no memory of that exchange over 15 years ago. I’d like to think that was my eleven year old way of preparing my mom for what was to come.

 

While working on my undergraduate degree, I had become involved with a political group with offices in Santa Barbara, CA and Washington DC. As my Alma mater, CSU Long Beach, was only a few hours from Santa Barbara, I attended events frequently. A few times a year there would be speaker events, luncheons, mixers and short weekend conferences at the Fess Parker. With every event I met more authors, politicians and like-minded college students. After finishing my undergraduate degree I continued attending as an alumni and when they announced a week long conference in DC the summer of 2007, I eagerly signed up.

I hadn’t been to the District since that fifth grade trip. At that point in my life, I knew that a change was coming and preemptively announced to my friends and family that I would be moving to DC. I didn’t encounter much resistance, which was surprising considering this was completely ridiculous. I was moving 3,000 miles to a place I hadn’t been in over ten years, didn’t know anyone and didn’t really have a plan? I can only assume that those closest to me saw my dream too.

After a long, awful cross country flight complete with thunderstorms, delays, refueling in Richmond and landing a full five hours late, I was finally here! Well, Dulles International Airport at least. After a bus and a train I arrived in Foggy Bottom, just late enough to have missed all the first night’s activities. The feeling when I stepped off the escalator onto the streets of the District is indescribable. For the first time, I had come home. I felt the city wrap me up and welcome me. I knew in that moment, no matter what obstacles I had to overcome first, I would make my life here.

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