Standing on the windy, cold corner of H and 17th St. NW in Washington, D.C., it felt both familiar and strange. The buses had destinations I recognized and could find on a map: Ft. Totten, Laurel, Pentagon. But I wasn’t home; I was on a teaching assignment and on my way to Farragut West Metro stop.
I’ve been here, but not in a hotel. I’ve taught in the same building, but not the same audience. And while I felt homesick for D.C. I also wanted to go back to my mountains and landscape and vibrant colors. And most of all, I was freezing because my jacket wasn’t a coat. I don’t own a coat. I don’t need a coat.
It’s difficult to come back to a town you lived in for years. So much of the behavior I remembered–the first question you are asked is “What do you do?” and if the answer doesn’t match what the questioner is looking for to advance their career, you are left standing alone, holding up the empty end of a conversation, having been dismissed.
But I also miss the vibrancy, the relaxed atmosphere of a town that is incredibly diverse in color, ethnicity, size, beliefs and approach to life. There is a different ethnic restaurant on every corner, (and so many I can’t eat in), but the buildings rise up in gray and glass and cement against a gray sky.
After two days of teaching, I stood on the windy, freezing street outside the hotel at four in the morning, waiting for my airport shuttle. A little sad and a lot happy to be going back. Because Washington, D.C. is a great place to teach, but my home is in Phoenix, and I wanted to go back home.
I drove home from the airport, directly to Anthem, to teach at the library. It was
good to teach art journaling, because my trip had been so packed with work that I did not write one word in my own journal. I’m now trying to figure out if I should try to catch up, or just move forward. Always a challenge.
–Quinn McDonald is teaching in Tucson this weekend. Eventually she will catch up on her sleep.