It’s funny how some parts of childhood come full circle later on in life. Thirty years ago, I got an early start in independent travel when my mother accepted a summer job in Washington, DC with her Chicago-based accounting firm.
I was 11 going on 12 and my brother was 9 going on 10. My dad’s classes didn’t finish until a week after my mom was to start her DC job, so mom packed us kids in the station wagon and drove out east.
Come Monday morning, mom went to work while Jonathan and I were left to our own devices. A couple things come to mind now:
1. Washington, DC was pretty seedy back in 1982.
2. This was years before cell phones.
For that week, Jonathan and I roamed the city, becoming intimate with every video arcade within a two mile radius of our Foggy Bottom apartment. We walked the Mall, bought chazerai from the many pushcarts around the reflecting pool, and ate our way through NW fast food joints.
One day we headed to Georgetown, stopping by the Old Stone House and ending up at the Cerberus cinema for a noon showing of Poltergeist. Jonathan and I and one middle-aged man were alone in that theater.
By the time our father arrived in DC the following weekend, Jonathan and I knew the city better than both parents.
Ten years later, I returned to DC for a three-week college class during January intersession. My classmates and I met with congresspeople, journalists, pollsters, and judicial clerks. Based in Georgetown, I remembered my way around the city. Months later, I would move to DC after graduation.
A good friend took this photo in Washington a few months before I packed my bags for Hong Kong. I’ve been back to DC a couple times since then, mainly to see friends and once to retrieve my Hong Kong work visa from the British Embassy (long story).
In the coming year I’ll return to DC and the same Foggy Bottom area where I lived 30 years ago. This time I’m headed there with a group of lobbyists who work to improve the rights of women, children, and families.