Flashback: Painting My D.C. Summer by Numbers (08/11/12)

To commemorate my first month as a “real-world” D.C. resident, enclosed below is an excerpt of a blog post about my first D.C. summer, three years ago and pre-real world.  


Here are some highlights of and reflections on my nine-week stay in this thriving city, in numerical form:

First Time in Washington, D.C., A Summer of Many Firsts

I had visited the capital cities of my ancestral motherland and my homeland, but never that of my birthplace, Washington D.C. Ten minutes into my stay in D.C., I got my first glimpse of American national monuments, perhaps a peek of the Capitol Building in the distance, I sensed the gravity of this place, felt a private thrill at the prospect of living, working, and existing in such an importance place for the next nine weeks.

I had good reason to be excited. D.C. is to Beijing and Ottawa as NYC is to Shanghai and Toronto. The former is the latter’s less vivacious and less schizophrenic, but more civilized and equally important brother. In the summertime, D.C. is especially vibrant. You can feel the energy of the city and its inhabitants wherever you go that feels less in-your-face than that of NYC.

Heavy-lifting, D.C.-style.

Nine weeks in D.C. would provide me with the opportunities to accomplish many “firsts.” It started off with the first of taking Amtrak for the first time. With regards to work, I started my first paid summer internship in an office, conducted the first of many international Skype interviews and team meetings, managed my first course website, not to mention fist-pumped in an office setting for the first time while watching Spain dominate Euro 2012.Outside of work, I got my first exclusive tours of the Washington Post and the Library of Congress, earned fleeting first-name recognition from an eminent pollster, became starstruck by news anchors at my first live taping of PBS News Hour, all courtesy of the IOP’s SIW Program.

PBS News Hour Taping!

Moreover, I volunteered at my first voter phone bank, cooked my first ever risotto from scratch, celebrated a national birthday in that nation’s capital for the first time, watched my first spoken word exhibition at the Jerusalem Fund, set foot for the first time in the Smithsonian Museums, held my first exotic insect, and heard lions roar and witnessed zebras fighting up-close for the first time.

He was a cutie.

On a more personal note, I accomplished some more momentous firsts, all related to writing. I finished my first Model UN study guide, started my first blog, created my first and only bucket list, and finished my first full-length novel. The rare freedom of summer has allowed me to ride the natural ebb and flow of my inspiration, which comes to my in bursts, rather than in a constant stream. I have continued writing and will never stop as long as I live. My passion for writing is as much a part of me as my flesh and blood, my characters as much my children as my brainchildren, their storylines my lifelines. I have flirted with the idea of giving up meat before, tried to cut myself off from Facebook, all things that I renounced for a spell, albeit with difficulty. But I could never, ever give up on writing and storytelling, and this summer has reinforced that to me.

Second Full Summer Away from My Family

Spending a full summer away from my family, as much as I missed them, was honestly pretty easy. Having spent summers away from home, such as the summer I spent living in a trailer-research station complex researching ecology and renewable energy, and a whole year at Harvard across the continent, I am used to living away from my family now. In many ways, it is liberating. Mind you, I was fortunate enough to be able to go home for two weeks and enjoy the comforts home entails: being able to bathe and eat  fresh fruit and watch TV whenever I want, enjoying our family tradition of tea time on the weekends, running in my own neighbourhood, catching up with old friends, making dinner with my mom, discussing politics with my dad late into the evening. However, two weeks at home this summer sufficed. I would not have traded away the chance to be in D.C. with more time at home. Home is constant, but summers are fleeting.

Third Adoptive Home

I don’t have much to say here other than D.C. now holds a special place in my heart, right behind Edmonton and Cambridge. In some ways, I feel I know D.C. as a whole better than I do Boston, being not completely immune to the Harvard bubble syndrome. Washington, D.C., I shall miss thee and all thou hath giveth me! So long, farewell, adieu, sayonara, goodbye for now.

I’ll be seeing you soon.

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