Several years ago, I was in Paris with my boyfriend (now my husband) taking in the sights of the city. It was one of those perfect spring days where the sun was shining in a cloudless blue sky, a light breeze was blowing and the temperature was perfect jeans-and-tee-shirt weather. While sitting in front of the Eiffel Tower, admiring all of the French people milling about and enjoying picnics on the lawn, I commented that it would be amazing to be able to just go out and have lunch or coffee each day in front of this incredible monument.
With that, my boyfriend started laughing at me. Apparently I completely forgot that I did – and still do – live in a city surrounded by internationally-renown monuments, museums and landmarks. In fact, several of them were plainly visible from the 15th floor apartment we lived in at the time – we overlooked the Pentagon, at least half of the Washington Monument was visible, and you could see Gen. Robert E. Lee’s house as well as many of the uniform rows of white tombstones that define Arlington National Cemetery.
Living in a city that consumes every minute of my life, I often forget all that is available right outside of my door. I rarely take a moment to take it all in – who has time when there is work to be done, bills to be paid, errands to run, etc.? When friends and family visit, of course, we do the obligatory tour of the monuments and a museum or two, but for me to just take a random day to go and experience the city is rare. I have lived in and around D.C. for all but five years since my junior year of college and can count on one hand the number of times I have ventured out and about on my own, simply to enjoy what the city has to offer.
So this being Labor Day weekend, I decided to take a couple of hours to grab my camera, hop on my bike, and head down to the National Mall. What a beautiful morning it was – it would have been easy to spend all day taking pictures of the monuments and museums, to capture the reactions and emotions of the people exploring the memorials for the first time, and to just take in all of the things that make D.C. unique. (See a sample of my photos on the Photos page, or at A New Perspective)
All in all, in spite being woefully out of shape, I managed to get in around 13 miles round trip and captured some great pictures along the way. But more than that, I began to remember what is so special about living in the nation’s capitol (even with all of the tourists). All of this is right in front of me, and I don’t appreciate what I have literally within walking distance of my home and my office. I’m hoping to put the city higher on my priority list moving forward so I don’t forget again.