Sometimes, even when you live in a city that others flock to for vacation, it’s easy to forget that you live in a really cool place. I first learned this while living in Rome and, much to my horror, walked by the Spanish Steps one night without even blinking at their grandeur, like they were just another set of old marble stairs.
The same thing has happened to me in Washington, D.C., after living here for almost two-and-a-half years. That time has flown by here in the U.S. capital, and like most long-term situations the initial sense of novelty and awe has faded into the background of the daily grind, i.e. the day-to-day routine. For instance, the typical routine of a young professional in D.C.: Wake up early to drag yourself to the gym, make a strong cup of coffee, groggily ride the Metro to work, get into “the zone” at the office, do your best at work, and groggily ride the Metro back home to scarf down some dinner (or groggily meet up with friends to scarf down some dinner) before catching some z’s and beginning the process over again.
They say to “stop and smell the roses,” and today I did just that, albeit completely by accident. I’d taken a lunch break to run over to Good Stuff Eatery, close to the House of Representatives and a favorite burger joint of congressional staffers, to say hello to my friends Aaron and David, both of whom are buddies from my first days in D.C. and both of whom I had not seen in ages. We caught up for a bit before I needed to head back to the office and began the brisk walk back.
Or so I tried. I hadn’t planned to walk the twenty minutes to see Aaron and David that day, and that morning I had picked out a pair of cute high heels to go with my dress. It soon became clear that it was not the day to wear high heels, and my brisk walk morphed from quick strides to slow paces to a limping shuffle. (Any girl who has tried to walk a long distance in high heels can quickly empathize).
As I limped along, I found myself walking in front of the U.S. Capitol. I’ve walked in front of the Capitol and the National Mall dozens of times, but this time I was pretty much forced to make it a slow jaunt. I noticed groups of tourists standing around, just looking up at the imposing building with their mouths open in awe or snapping away with their cameras. Before I knew it, I too was taking some photos with my Iphone and enjoying the beauty of the city. I even think my mouth was gaping open at one point.
After taking some photos and resting my throbbing feet for a minute, I made it back to my office, thankful to be able to sit down. I was also thankful, in a way, to have been forced to slow down and be reminded of where I live. Looking back on the 2.5 years, from when I first arrived in D.C. as a wide-eyed young professional not knowing what lay ahead, to the blessing of having the job I do now, I was reminded at how cool Washington, D.C., really is. For all of its intensity, power trips, frustrations, and randomness, it really is a beautiful place. I’m glad that I was reminded of that today.
And after I ride the Metro home, I’m going to soak my feet. The next time I “stop and smell the city,” I’ll try to wear flip flops.