One of my absolute favorite places to visit is Washington, D.C. – after all, it’s my hometown. I always have the fondest memories when I think of my childhood growing up in the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area. Sometimes when I sit and reminisce, I can’t believe time has flown by so quickly. From spending my summers eating an abundance of blue crabs in Chesapeake Bay, to walking the National Mall during the Cherry Blossom Festival, I can’t think of any other place I would rather be when I'm in need of some alone time. The sheer history of the city, all of its monuments and landmarks, and the amazing food, tempt me to book a one-way flight back home at least once a month. I never go through with it though.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized the importance of growth, independence, and distance. When I first moved the Los Angeles, I was terrified. I didn’t have any friends, I didn’t know where anything was and I craved familiarity. I thought I stuck out like a sore thumb. I missed being able to get around without the use of Siri and not needing to know street names. I just wanted my “old” life back. I soon came to realize however, that my “old” life was just that – old. I had to meet new people, make new memories, have new experiences, and most importantly, learn a new city. At the time, I didn’t know how long I’d be in California for, so I might as well make the most of it.
The first year was the hardest. I did poorly in school, I barely made friends, and I was just a rebel. I couldn’t understand why it was sunny all the time or why the traffic was so bad. I just wanted out. However, my mom wouldn’t let me off the hook so easy. My mom told me I had to start living here, not there (as in the DMV). I was never going to find out if I had what it took to start a new life, if all I ever did was complain and whine about my old life. So I did. I joined my high school’s dance team. I missed dancing and being able to express myself in a positive way. Within a month’s time, I had started building friendships with the girls on the team. They would invite me out places, we would hang over each other’s houses and go out on the weekends. All of sudden, California didn’t seem that bad. I started to find my place in my community, both in school and outside of school. And while I still had my downfalls, I excelled at what I was good at. As high school progressed, I pretty much knew everyone, I had positive relationships with my teachers and with other members of staff. I was beginning to feel like I was at home.
And while I knew that I could never forget where I came from, I was able to enjoy the new space I was in. I was happy. And although, I now view Los Angeles as home, nothing gets me more excited than when I book my Christmas ticket back to the DMV, away from the sun and the bad traffic. Now when I look at where I am in life, I’m grateful for both my past and my present because they’ve made me who I am today.