Tuesday, February 03, 2009

going home

Even though I haven't lived in Virginia (the Washington, D.C. area) in nearly eleven years, it's still an area that I'll always be from. I was born in D.C. and grew up in Virginia...so even though "home" has been in Ithaca or Buffalo, New York, Durham, North Carolina, or now, Kentucky, another home is always waiting for me when I visit my family.

This time, we went out for dimsum at a Chinese restaurant with my parents, sister-in-law, and two nephews. Noodles (the baby, as nicknamed by his older brother) just napped right through it. My three year old nephew Nate was in for a treat, as were the grown ups. It was the Chinese New Year, so we were entertained by drums, gongs, fire crackers and Lions.

Then it was off to see the newly refurbished American History Museum. Since it's part of the Smithsonian, it's free...and it was very very crowded. I caught some photos of the mall while I was there.

Right now, downtown DC is having a revitalization, but many areas of our nation's capitol remain shabby and in need of support. DC is in a strange position; Congress passes its budget, so although DC has only a non-voting representative, the Congress controls spending. In the past, it was always the non-touristy areas, like the school system problems (I taught in inner city DC right after college) or the horrible public housing. Now even the touristy sections need some help!

Just about 11 days before, our national mall was filled to the brim with humanity on Inauguration Day. While I don't know how it looked just before Inauguration, I grew up visiting and playing on this stretch of green. I can say this...things were pretty well cleaned up...no trash remained. However, our national front lawn really looks shabby and literally downtrodden...no wonder after so many millions of Americans visited it. I'm wondering if those politicians who struck the mall refurbishment from the stimulus package have looked out their office windows lately?

While my trip was really scheduled to celebrate my grandmother's 93rd birthday (and we did!), we also got a chance to hold our newest nephew Noodles. He is doing well now that he is home from the hospital, although still has many medical challenges ahead. (he's still eating via nasal gastric tube, for instance.)

It was only after I moved away from the Washington area that I realized how close to the action I was when I lived here. I went to school with kids whose parents were in government,as my dad was, for a while. It was no big deal to see the diplomats' cars pull up to pick up kids from school, or to be held up in traffic for the presidential motorcade. One of my youth group friends happened to be the daughter of a congressman. One of my brothers carpooled to soccer with some kids who then moved to a bigger house. They had to change schools and soccer leagues, too! Their last name? Quayle.

It's interesting to see how all this personal experience fits in the context of our bigger nation...in Kentucky, a week after a bad storm, we're in the national news...but it's a rare occurrence here. (yes, electricity, safe water, and heat are still a desperate problem for many. I am lucky.) I'd forgotten about how Washington, DC sometimes feels like the spotlight's been left on all the time. It's fun to go for a visit, I miss the news, the diversity, the culture... but I don't miss the business issues of the national focus (like a choice to cut funding for our National Mall--and our family planning!) and the glare of the lights.

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Blogger Willow said...

When we lived in inner city LA and I taught there, it was all about the gangs, noise, constant light. After we moved away, I realized I missed the easy access to everything via metro and bus and I missed the energy of the place.

February 5, 2009 at 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DC. Going home. Those pictures. Neighbors who were oh-yeah-thems. Boy is that the life I grew up with too!

February 6, 2009 at 11:33 PM  

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