Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Gratitude to Our Nation's Capital

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- I don't usually trust car salesmen, but when I bought my new car last year he promised, "you can fit a lot of stuff back there!" He wasn't lying. Little did I know that a year and a half later I'd be attempting to cram my entire life back there. Thanks to two dear friends, on Friday night we made that happen. 

While I can't think of a better reason for my move, it's still been an emotional time for me. I've spent the last four and a half years in our nation's capital. It's definitely had its ups and downs, but the last two years especially have been some of my most cherished. It took a few years for Potomac fever to set in, but when it did, it struck me hard.

This past week I've been reflecting on how all this came about. When I lived in Florida in 2008, I felt a strong pull to put my TV news reporting days behind me and move to Washington, D.C. I'll be honest when I say I wasn't excited about it. D.C. was my twin sister's thing, not mine. Besides, what interest did I have in politics? None. But all my siblings were going to be there, and I felt a yearning to be close to them. I guess I had a feeling that we'd probably never live near each other again. So, I went. And I stayed. Longer than any of them. They've all long since moved far away. God definitely guided me there. And made me stay. I have no doubt.
My siblings (and their spouses on the ends) and I right before my brother moved to Sweden 
Right before Amy moved to Oklahoma (P.S. why were flower headbands ever "in"?)
I'm not really sure how to sum up my years in D.C. If I had to use one word, I'd say miraculous. I somehow miraculously convinced Senator Bennett's staff to hire me in his press shop, at a time when Republican jobs were in short supply. I had zero political experience. Because of him I gained a deeper love and respect for our country, mostly because of his example in serving it. When his term ended, I didn't think it was possible to work for another office I respected as much. In fact, my list of senators I'd even be willing to work for was incredibly short. Truth be told, I didn't even want to stay in D.C. I started searching elsewhere. But God had other plans for me. And I stayed put. And that short list? Good thing I even had a list at all, because I ended up miraculously getting hired as the press secretary for the senator who topped the list, Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas. And my time spent there, just shy of two years, has been such a wonderful experience.
Senator Bennett and I
Me and Senator Roberts

The office threw me a going away/bridal shower last week. Senator Roberts enthusiastically helped me unwrap my gifts. Oh, he makes me laugh! And on my last day of work on Friday, he serenaded me with some Grand Ole Opry song about making grown men cry. It was a terrible rendition (albeit hilarious), but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have to choke back the tears. He and his staff have been so good to me.
My boss and I at my going away party
Some of my Roberts' buddies
I have loved spending these years working on Capitol Hill. I love seeing the majestic Capitol building every day illuminating the D.C. skyline. It gives me chills every time I walk its historic corridors or catch a glimpse of the dome lit up in the sky at night, and I always catch myself gazing at it for a few moments on my drive home from work at night. There's something about this building and what it stands for that makes me proud to serve our country, even in this small way.
Senate side of the Capitol
View of the Capitol from my drive home from work
The Capitol Visitor's Center plays a video at the beginning of each public tour entitled E Pluribus Unum (translation: out of many, one), it's our Capitol's motto. The first time I watched it, I was awe-inspired. I felt like such a geek. I was in awe that our Founding Father's thought up this genius system that somehow allowed every state and region to have equal representation and balance. And in awe that I was somehow privileged enough to watch it up close, even during election years when nothing seems to happen.

And it's here in our nation's capital where I miraculously fell in love... to a guy that lives on the opposite end of the country. But when it came down to it, I'd rather date him living so far away then any guy who lived next door. I'm so excited to marry him.
Isaac and I on one of our first dates with a friend who doubled with us
A few days after we got engaged. This pic makes me laugh.
Just after Isaac and I got engaged, I brought him to the weekly press conference that the Senate Majority Leader and Senate Republican Leader hold every Tuesday afternoon. He got to stand among the Capitol press corps and listen to what Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell had to say about their interpretation of policy that week. I typically take our interns there, because I know it's neat for them to see this sort of thing up close. As the press conferences wrapped up, and we walked back to the Senate subway, Isaac said to me, "That was so awesome. How can I take you away from all this?!" I don't think I had an eloquent answer, but I told him something like how I had never intended on staying here forever anyway. He's worth it to me to close a really good chapter and start an even better one.
Isaac (plaid shirt) listening to Sen. Reid at a press conference in the Capitol

So, I've pondered a time or two over the last few weeks, why it is that I can possibly be so emotional (other than from lack of sleep, I mean) and sad about leaving when I'm so excited about what lay ahead. And I guess it can only be described this way... D.C. has touched me. So many people and experiences here have touched my life for good. I've made friends here who I adore beyond words. And I've had experiences that have shaped my life in ways that have changed me forever. I've grown passionate about politics and about causes that never before crossed my mind. And I think if I would have left without feeling this kind of magnitude of emotion, I would have failed. So, I'm going to go ahead and count this chapter of my life as a success. The tears and the heartache over leaving have deemed it such. I guess that's how you know your time has been spent worthwhile. 
My Bennett buds, plus Mike, and minus a few others
On Friday morning I dragged a friend along with me to watch the sunrise from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It was breathtaking. I'm usually not one for symbolism (or cheesiness), but I couldn't help but feel like it was slightly symbolic. I'm closing a chapter of my life that I will always cherish. But the sun is rising on a new one. And only God's hand could be behind something so miraculous. The fun is just beginning. Now I'm making my way across the country with a very packed car. My final destination is Seattle, where I have a lot of adventures awaiting me with a guy I can't wait to be with forever.
Sunrise from the Lincoln 
So, goodbye Washington, D.C. Thank you for being so good to me!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

One Month Away

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sometimes I still think, "I can't believe this is happening!" But it is... in just 30 days. Whoa.

My time is winding down in D.C. And I'm getting pretty sentimental. Just nine more days and my cross-country road trip begins. Final destination: Seattle (with stops in Knoxville, OKC, SLC and Maui. Sounds dreamy, right?).

I'm excited about what lies ahead. Very excited. And I'm looking forward to lots of walks on this beach in Seattle with this guy...