So I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s. Living in College Park places me in a great location—close to Washington, D.C. and a smattering of other towns that all provide an abundance in shopping attractions. Even though there is a Trader Joe’s in Maryland, I decided to drive to the one in Washington, D.C. instead because that simply sounded more exciting.
Now I know some of you may think this sounds like a crazy person’s idea, but just wait until you hear the next part. After making a wrong turn somewhere near 13th and Massachusetts Ave NW, I realized how close I was to 16th Street. And instead of following my GPS’s frantic directions to get back on the intended path toward the Trader Joe’s on 25th Street NW, I instead turned north on 16th street and drove.
Let me explain this decision—when I was an undergrad, I studied for a semester in D.C. as a journalism student. There were only nine of us in the program that semester, and they placed us in home stays throughout the city. Ashley and I were placed in a house on Colorado Avenue off 16th Street across from Rock Creek Park. Those three months were some of the best days I had while in college, even though I technically wasn’t at my college. Living in D.C. was the first time I had lived in a city where my family wasn’t around ten minutes away, my first exposure to public transportation, and a time where I not only grew up more but learned more about myself as a person.
Part of this reason is due to Ashley, who still remains one of my best friends to this day. We had never met before my dad and I picked her up at the airport the day orientation started. She is from Minnesota, far from Tennessee. She had lived on her own much longer than I had and was comfortable making friends easily, whereas it takes me a while to step out of my shell. Still, we became great friends and she carried me through many of the problems I encountered that semester.
So today I decided to drive by our old house, simply for the fact that it’s good to occasionally remind yourself where you have come from, as this helps you realize more where you are going. Yesterday I looked around my new apartment and almost couldn’t believe I was already here. This last month has been a total blur; I returned home from India and left for Maryland a day and a half later. My brain didn’t even catch up to the fact that I was in America until clear into the next week.
Regardless, one thing remains the same—my love for D.C., which was sparked from my three months living there. This is a love that will remain constant for the rest of my life, no matter where I live. So the fact that I live within driving/commuting/walking distance to my favorite American city means I can’t squander my time here, rather that be trips to Trader Joe’s through confusing traffic circles (whoever invented traffic circles hates people and cars) or a drive-by one of my old homes just so I could look, smile, and think of how the house meant more to me than the brick and windows does to any other person that happens to drive by.
The truth is, I didn’t think I could learn my way away around a city like D.C., but I did. I didn’t think I could live on my own when I graduated college, but I did. Every place I have lived has become a part of who I am on a level I sometimes can’t even understand.