I was talking to a friend of mine from college on the phone yesterday -- it had been an eventful day and I was outside for nearly all of it, and that always makes my outlook improve and makes me in a good mood. This friend knows me fairly well, especially with us having been roommates after college for a year. She's omeone I've always kept in touch with and have been pretty honest with along the way.
She is a physicians assistant, and with me doing health policy and looking at future trends and helping to craft legislation for things that will affect her five-ten years down the road, sometimes I like to talk shop with her and find out how certain processes are now and how she feels about them. For lack of a better term, it keeps me grounded and helps remind me that I'm actually doing something here instead of convening meetings and writing papers just to convene meetings and write papers that no one will read.
Yesterday was one of those chats, and the conversation evolved into me talking abstractly about my potential next career move. And she said -- "Well, you seem pretty happy and really liking living in DC" I actually laughed out loud and replied "Shit, I'd leave tomorrow if I could."
She was stunned -- "Really?" You're not happy?"
"Not really," I cheerfully replied.
I am here for necessity and I love certain things about it. But this is temporary. It's not home. And by that I don't just mean that it's not Kentucky. It's just not MY home; where I will land. Temporary is less attractive to me as I get older.
Last week (two weeks ago, hell, who can keep up) when I was flying back from SLC, a teenager was sitting beside me on the plane. He was about 14 I guess, and the poor kid had a middle seat and I was at the window. He kept staring out the window while I was trying to read, and he was pretty close to my face and in my peripheral vision, it looked like he was constantly staring at ME. I was getting irritated and that's a long ass flight to be irritated.
Anyway, as we started to fly in low over DC, he spotted the Washington monument. His eyes lit up and he just said "Whoa" in a quiet voice. He'd never been here before. I played aerial tour guide and ended up giving him and his entire family a list of places to eat around the capitol, etc.
I'm going to miss that. My greatest hits list of being here is made up of a flash of moments --
Living in Arlington, with a view of Arlington cemetary from my window, and laying in my bed each night and hearing "Taps" being played softly -from somewhere- every single night at 11pm.
The look on the faces of people seeing the monuments for the first time.
Lunchtime walks circling the Capitol building, looping around the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court.
Not knowing there is a landing strip inside the Pentagon and the horror I felt watching a Blackhawk helicopter lower itself into it --I was sitting in my car at a stoplight and had pulled over and waited for a crash. This was 2003. We were all tense.
Getting too close to the White House when trying to avoid a group of tourists that were standing in a clump on the sidewalk. I was in a hurry, so I stepped over the small rope on the sidewalk and tried to dart by them. Security officers grabbed my arm and hauled me right back over that small rope. Like I said...we were all tense.
My cousins, breathless with excitement, coming in to the restaurant where I was waiting for them to have dinner with me when they were visiting. "We TOUCHED the White House!" I offered to buy the entire restaurant dinner if they had actually touched the white house. They insisted. After dinner I had them take me to the alleged white house. They'd taken a whole series of pictures with their hands on...the Treasury department building. In their defense...it was dark. And that IS a pretty impressive building ;)
I don't know --it goes on and on. Things that someday, when I'm somewhere else and doing something else and maybe even living a life completely opposite to this one I'm leading now....someday, I'll feel a twinge. And for a moment, I'll be homesick.