Then to Now: My D.C. Experience | The Washington Center

Then to Now: My D.C. Experience

There’s this tribe up in the Andes of northern Chile, they’re called the Aymara, and they have a very interesting perspective on time. To them, the past is ahead and the future is behind. That’s why we can see the past as clear as day, but the future is all guesswork. It’s because we’re facing the wrong way – we don’t have eyes on the backs of our heads. Y’see? Time flows through us, from a point ahead, between our legs, and off into the indefinite future from whence we came. Makes sense when you think about it, right? The visible past is ahead, the invisible future is behind.


I’ve been thinking about that. Now that my summer in D.C. is behind me, I can see it clear as day, from first moment to last. It’s been an incredible ten weeks. I’ve made friends from places all over the world, like Mexico, Japan, China, South Sudan and even New Jersey. I’ve done more, seen more and learned more than I ever could’ve because I let myself meet these people.


I told you in my first post that I’d leave a trail of breadcrumbs to be followed by future interns. Looking back over my blog, I didn’t really do that. I failed. I talked about random stuff that pertained to me and was only marginally helpful to others. So, I’ve decided to formally abandon the breadcrumbs and just give you the whole loaf upfront. If you want, you can break it into pieces or share it with your friends. Dip it in olive oil, maybe add a little grated parmesan, hey, that’s your business. I’m divorcing myself of all responsibility here. I’m just going to give one real piece of advice: do things.


Do things you don’t like, things that other people invited you to, things that you accidentally stumbled into. Don’t worry about it. Just do it all. That’s what made my summer in D.C. what it was. I met people who did things, and then myself did things, met people by doing things, and with them, did more things. It’s easy to sit in your room and watch Netflix – or drag a chair onto your balcony and read – but what I’ve learned is that saying “no” to a new experience is almost always a mistake. The word “almost” is important there. Don’t say yes to everything, or you’ll get into hard drugs, dog-fighting or drag racing. Trust me.


Courtesy of Work Made for Hire


I’d be lying if I said I was still that same guy who rolled up to the RAF in a Super Shuttle with Mario. I’m far superior to that little dweeb. I’m smarter, I’m more confident, I’m more open to new experiences, I’m more worldly and I’m better looking. I’ll say it. I’ve cultivated a bit of a jawline. Still can’t grow a beard, but that’s alright. I’ve never liked redheads with beards anyway. They end up looking like Gimli. As much as I like Gimli, if I’m going to be any character from the "Lord of the Rings," it’s Sam.


Like dear Samwise the Brave, I’ve just finished a life-changing journey to a scary new place. I’ve made some incredible friendships, I’ve learned things about myself and about the world that I’ll never forget and I’ve helped Frodo destroy a dark lord. What’s left to do? That’s the question on my mind now, and I think the answer is: find a way back to D.C. This cannot and will not be a permanent goodbye. Not for me.


I’m in Memphis as of now; I’m sitting at my parents’ kitchen table with a cup of tea and Chick-fil-A for dinner. I’m looking out the window at a bright green canopy of Tennessee treetops. I like them. D.C. has many things, but it doesn’t have forests, or deer, or green spotted frogs that stick to your windows, or my cat, Pandy, who yearns in vain to devour them.


I’ve missed Mother Nature and her minions, and I’ve missed seeing the stars at night. I have those things here, and I have those things in Michigan, where I’ll be finishing my last year of school. But what I don’t have is the buzzing vivacity of the Capital. I don’t have the incredible architecture, the museums, the monuments, the bookstores, the coffee shops, the people or the parks. And I don’t have the Metro.


I kinda liked the Metro.





Read Ethan's previous blog posts here

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