Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dear District of Columbia,

It's been a wandering semester and half-summer, hasn't it? You have grown, I'm sure, welcoming flocks of people to your monuments, to scuff new sneakers on the sidewalk of your gridded streets. I can see you, just soaking up the swell of summer tourists, beaming out the lights from the Monument over them, watchful and inviting.

I miss you. I whisper it laughing over homemade spring rolls at a dinner party; I pray it driving home from work; I listen to my own mind think it as I run through neighborhood after neighborhood, the long stretches of colonial houses and primly kept gardens and swept driveways. I see the lawnmowers in their journey across the yard and I suddenly, inexplicably, see you: the bustle of 7th St. SE, the grime of Farragut North where the suited men and women emerge and descend. I can see Kramer Books, I can see the little blue house of Anthropologie in Georgetown, and I see Chop't in Chinatown, and the D6 bus with my favorite driver calling out, "Union, Station, Union, Station."

It's been a while since you and I saw each other, and I threw leaves in the air with Mandie, or drank apricot iced tea in Port City Java, or wandered around Farragut Park while talking furiously on the phone to my mother or to my friend... and I haven't forgotten, you know. I carry you with me.

My world here is colored with the smells of freshly cut grass and the innumerable cups of tea that my parents and I drink on the porch with the black lab at our feet. I'm still reading books, I'm studying history (I know, it came out of nowhere and everywhere, didn't it?). I drive to work, and there's not a Metro station in sight. And when I look out into the sky from my window, I can't make out the outline of the Capitol building. I see the sky sprinkled with stars. The air has a new edge to it, cleaner, maybe, or just tasting like summer.

But I keep what you taught me close to my heart: the fact that writing is good, even when it is hard, and this blog, which began just being about me and the coffee shops, the business meetings, about teaching myself to be myself in a new place. I learned the joy of sign language from you (and Virginia, of course). I learned that there is promise in what is unfamiliar and that God listens closer to our hearts than we do. I learned that to be homesick means to know what home is.

You taught me myself. How is that, that places know us before we do? You knew, from the bump of the plane on the tarmac to the last glance backward in the dark of a 5am bus ride to Baltimore, that I was spending time with you so that I could meet myself. And it's hard, I won't lie, to trust that I am still that person who doubled over laughing in the kitchen with Gillian and Rebecca, who walked to the Lincoln with Sam and saw you spread out before us like a map waiting for our footsteps, who did not question the goodness of God.

It's hard because I have my heart stashed somewhere between the Marine Barracks and the White House, on the blue line to GWU/Foggy Bottom, in the quiet hum of traffic outside the building, in the glass and marble office, in all the crevices I caught my high heels on and all the sidewalks I almost tripped over. You hold 600,000 people and innumerable skyscrapers and too many Blackberry devices to count. You bear the weight of wide-eyed wonder and disillusionment, the promise and the price of the powerful, and the small miracles of dog walking in Lincoln Park and boys who scribble in my sketchbook and strangers who smile at me on the street when I look a little downcast.

You hold me.

So, DC, know that I carry you with me, in my bones, in the way that I dress for work and the way that I listen to others and the way that I trust Him. I watch the world with better eyes, and I love the world with a bigger heart.

I'm sitting in Massachusetts miles away from a Peregrine espresso, miles away from the almost-tattoo I got in Adams Morgan, and the cupcakes we ate at DuPont, and the long beautiful walk from L St to Busboys & Poets, and I can hear a kettle singing and the shower running, and so I'll go for now. But thank you for not giving me my whole heart back on December 11. Thank you for carrying it in your streets and monuments, in your marble buildings and elevators, and in the midst of your beautiful chaos.

I'll come back soon, I promise.


1 comment:

  1. This is really beautiful, Hil. What a steadfast relationship you hold with the city.


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