DC Bookends

The very first big trip I took, that I was old enough not only to remember but also to do without my parents, was to our nation’s capitol, as part of a program called Close Up/Washington, DC when I was in 6th grade. Ironically, DC is the most recent trip I took as an adult, too, when I traveled there with the ACLU of Nebraska to protest the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the SCOTUS. That trip was in 2018; since then, I could blame lack of travel on COVID Life these last two years, but also, Mom Life has kept me pretty home bound in general itself, so who’s to say I would have gone anywhere more recently, even if I could have?

That first trip, way back in 1994, was something kids from many states did at the time (and is a program that the internet tells me still exists), which was travel with teachers, chaperones, and other kids of a certain age range to tour the nation’s capital. We went over Easter weekend, so as not to miss so many days of school, and flew in for a whirlwind schedule of museums, monuments, and tours. It was such a whirlwind, in fact, that my memory of it is spotty beyond some flashes of social moments with the other kids in my group, in particular from my school and some older boys we thought were cute, and a handful of especially impactful sights of DC that we saw on our race through the city. This highlight reel included the Vietnam Wall, the newly (at-the-time) opened Holocaust Museum, the Iwo Jima Memorial (I was mesmerized by how the flag seem to raise to stand as our tour buses drove around the statue), and the Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery, which, to this day remains one of the most powerful ceremonies I have ever witnessed.

I don’t know what inspired this trip, if it was something I begged for or something my parents suggested to me, but I know it was a long-standing option for kids in Yankton to go and I can only guess how many of us go to do that over the years which is pretty rare for kids from SoDak to have seen at that time. The world is a different place now and even with the pandemic, travel seems more likely although I can’t quite wrap my head around sending my own sixth grader off on such a trip, even though I know he’d love to go.

In complete opposite fashion in terms of itineraries, my most recent travel/most recent trip to DC involved absolutely zero tourist spots. I mean, I saw some monuments off in the distance as we rode in the Uber from the airport to our hotel, and I kind of got a glimpse of the Supreme Court building as we walked to the Russell Senate Building to meet with the staffs of our two Nebraska senators, but that was it. While others in my group did a bit more out and about in the city, both for pleasure and for protest, I was in energy protection mode and didn’t want to stray far from our hotel or head out into the city on my own. However, in a similar fashion to my first visit, my second time in DC was also a whirlwind, with a very short time frame and a lot of intense action packed into my few days there, albeit of an entirely different kind.

Writing this has made me realize, I need to go back to DC and once I am there, I need to take my time exploring the city and its history. It’s no surprise that our kids have been asking to visit DC for some time now and I do think our family needs to experience that together – B and I and the five not-so-little presidents – I just don’t quite know how or when we will do that (or how we would keep that trip from also being a whirlwind, since it seems that most things we do falls into that category). Of course the other irony here is that as I write this, we approach yet another Easter weekend which clearly won’t involve travel of any such great lengths, but the bookend nature of the story and the destination continues.

*Post #3 out of 52.


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