It’s strange when you graduate high school and pack up part of your childhood room to go to college in the most stereotypical way possible. It’s strange when you spend a summer in your college town working and it becomes casual to spend holidays without your family. It’s strange when you come home the summer after graduating for a few months before starting the next stage of your life, walking the thin line between being an independent adult and living in your parents’ house. But nothing is as strange as packing up every single thing you own into your car, that you bought and signed for all on your own, at 4:30 a.m. and pulling out of your driveway, hitting I-95, alone.
Alright Sherlock, have you figured it out yet? I experienced this first-hand a few weeks ago when I left Connecticut to come to Washington, D.C. – something I never thought I would say I was doing right after graduating undergraduate university. But, then again, I never thought I’d be driving my dream car right after graduating undergraduate university either, yet somehow Gigi found her way into my home and heart this past May (yes, I name my car, I name everything. And no, I won’t stop talking about Gigi, she’s my literal baby).
Having been in D.C. now for about two weeks, I feel I am properly qualified to make this post and call myself a resident. It’s been a whirlwind – between starting my internship immediately and saying goodbye to my boyfriend as he goes back to Baylor, to finding running routes that are safe for a woman alone at 5 a.m. to learning the best metro route between my office and campus – a whirlwind I have thoroughly enjoyed. I’m such a city girl, and as much as I loved Baylor and Waco, I desperately needed to be in a city again that had restaurants open on Sunday’s and things to do past 8 p.m. that didn’t involve fast food.
So, being in a city, and a new city at that, I have a huge bucket list of things to tick off. My first free opportunity, I was ready to go – but no one to go with. So, my anti-social self poured a glass of wine and opened up Netflix to watch an episode of Friends that I have seen embarrassingly too often. The next day, I grabbed lunch with a former manager of mine, and he said something to really kick-start my adventurous side.
“At your age, you have no excuse to not check something off your bucket list each week,” he said, in total seriousness.
So the next day, being a Saturday afternoon, I went for a run and showered, then got myself ready and plugged in my headphones, walked out the door, and started ticking things off my bucket list. I even approached a stranger and asked her to take my photo to document that this excursion truly did happen (mainly for the Instagram opportunity, but also because I knew my mother wouldn’t fully believe that I left my bed by myself on my own free will).
Last weekend, in this grand adventure of mine, I visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum, Air and Space Museum and the National Gallery of Art. I did have my boyfriends mother accompany me the second day for the latter two, which was very sweet and also probably good for my mental health to actually speak words for the first time all weekend.
In exploring the city, it really started to hit me how excited I was to be here, and how high school Megan, and even undergraduate Megan, probably would not have believed that I would take this type of leap this young in life. Once I interned at Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, a few summers ago, I knew I wanted to end up in D.C. eventually and be at the heart of it all. And in researching graduate school, Georgetown continually pulled my heart. Thinking back to last fall when I filled out applications, I struggled to find the confidence to even hit submit, because I was scared of the rejection. But sometimes, when you push that button, rejection doesn’t happen. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t, but you won’t know until you hit the button.
All three were powerful and moving in their own respective ways. The Holocaust museum absolutely shattered my heart, and if you ever get the chance to go I say it’s a must, it was incredibly eye opening and meaningful to see first hand, so we never forget the lives lost. The most powerful part for me were the shoes, because you see in front of you just how many lives were affected and so wrongly taken away. The Ronald Reagan quote on the front of the building best encapsulates it – “We who did not go their way owe them this: we must make sure their deaths have posthumous meaning. We must make sure that from now until the end of days all humankind stares this evil in the face…and only then can we be sure that it will never arise again.”
The National Gallery of Art was absolutely beautiful, and I got to see a live da Vinci piece which was exciting! The Air and Space museum was my favorite, for a lot of geeky reasons. Seeing the Lockheed Vega 5B and reading the history of how the company I work for started was so exciting. Looking at rockets and reading the history of space and air exploration had me feeling like a kid in a candy shop. But what really hit me was the Bessie Coleman quote printed on the wall in an exhibit, that said,
“Do you know you have never lived until you have flown?”
And I realized, in the past year, when I pushed the submit button, when I made the decision to go after my Washington, D.C. dream, and yes even getting on the last plane back to Dallas to get my Bachelor’s, I was flying. And because I chose to fly, I am living. There are few rare moments when you realize just how exactly you are living, and that was one of them. Standing in the crowded museum, in the center of the country, wide-eyed and still a bit confused on how to read a metro schedule, with a whole lifetime of learning ahead, I was flying, and I’m so excited to see how much further I can fly.