Over the last three weeks I am confident I figured out what it would feel like to be a yo-yo. Rapidly oscillating while going back and forth, do we stay or should we go? While going had always been the original plan, circumstances late in the game arose where an audible would and could have been the right thing. When the dust cleared, we came to our senses and it was clear that the clock was racing towards the infamous triple zeros with no option for overtime.
Now I sit here in a quiet house, a house that has served as a second home for me for the last 386 months but there is a city and a metropolitan area within miles of this home that I have called home for the last 60 months that has been an integral part of my development into the person I am today. We are all faced with those fork in the road experiences. It came for me five years ago with an opportunity to leave the place I called home for 18 years for a place I thought I knew but had no idea about.
It really was not that hard of a decision to pack up my Honda Accord with my “life” and head north for new adventures. I fondly remember driving up to Greenville in an effort to “break up the trip” where I spent the night with my former college roommate, talking about my new beginning and yet reminiscing about days gone by and how crazy it was that something I had talked about was finally coming true.
In late May of 2007 I remember seeing the Capitol and saying that is where I work. It gave me chill bumps and made me smirk like a kid with his hand caught in the candy jar. I really didn’t work in the Capitol but it became the backdrop for many important events.
For those who have never had the opportunity to walk through the halls of the Senate office buildings you are missing a treat. The majestic marble building that is the Richard B. Russell Senate Office building is one of those places that should be on a Top 10 must see list when you come to DC. Your every step echoes loudly down its long, open, corridors. Each office has an American flag and their respective state flag guarding the main entrance.
SR-120 became my new home. Across the hall from us were two fellow Republican offices occupied by New Hampshire and Nevada. It would be known as “Freedom Hall”. Without verification, our hall had to be one of the few places in the Senate let alone Congress where an entire hall was occupied by Republican offices. When I arrived the Democrats had taken over the Senate so Republicans who had been around, were still getting used to life in the minority.
Across the hall I would meet one of my best friends a guy could ever find, especially in a city and place that is known for being so superficial. In 2007 the only things I knew about New Hampshire was where it was on the map, Concord was the capital and Dartmouth was somewhere there since my grandfather had gone to school there. Over the next year and a half I would grow a fondness and disappointment for the Granite State of which I could have never imagined.
There are so many experiences to recall. I guess you have to begin with the people watching. There is something cool about seeing Ted Kennedy, a down trodden John Kerry (post presidential run), Hillary Clinton, Trent Lott, Robert Byrd, Ted Stevens. Yes there was the rare Barack Obama sighting but he was more focused on seeking out other career opportunities.
Some of the legislative highlights or lowlights depending on your point of view included a Farm Bill reauthorization. Let me pause, there are things that obviously will be studied and torn apart by historians during the 110th and 111th Congresses but let me tell you my legislative highlight was seeing a Farm Bill go from the fact finding change this, don’t change that stage to committee mark-up to floor action, to conference committee and finally to final vote was a ride that gave me my seminal Hill Experience. A close second is budget vote-a-rama. Again, if you do not know about it, look it up, it is an integral part in laying the budget framework for our nation on an annual basis.
The experts will talk about the troop surge, you will have to ask me about the immigration firefight I walked into Day 1. The know it alls will concentrate of Stimulus I, 9/11 Commisson, Minimum Wage, Children’s Healthcare, the financial collapse, Auto Bailout, the Bailout, Stimulus II, and Healthcare to name a few.
The Farm Bill served as my Schoolhouse Rock “Just a Bill on Capitol Hill” experience. I came away from the experience having a deep appreciation for farmers. Do not let the blue collar nature of their work fool you. The required knowledge of the science of agriculture, combined with their required business acumen is unmatched in other fields.
I went through a Presidential campaign in the Nation’s Capital. I watched with heartbreak as good people lost jobs in the 2008 election wave, I was downtown election night when the first Black President was elected, I sat in intense briefings on what was happening to our financial markets and the consternation facing elected officials as “too big to fail” became apart of everyday speech. I saw a lot to say the least.
There is so much more that I experienced outside the halls of Congress that I will take with me, my D.C. experience was capped off by meeting a young woman from Pennsylvania by way of different stops during her life. This captivating young woman who was smart, passionate, understanding, loving, and my rock would later become my wife on July 11, 2009. She too has written a story of adventure during her time here that has shaped her and led her to who she is today.
The energy in this city leading up to the 2009 inauguration, seeing the first baseball game in Nationals Park, the continued disappointment that is known as the Redskins, two college football games in two days, getting engaged on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the loss of my grandmother, living across the street from my brother, playing softball on the mall with the Washington Monument as my backdrop, times with friends, 4th of July Fireworks, attending a church that gave new life to what it meant to be a Christ follower, I could go on and on but I won’t.
While it is time to start a new adventure. I am thankful for my parents who gave me this once in a lifetime opportunity to come here and do life. I thankful for the friends and experiences I have had.
I know there are people out there who would love to see things change here in the District, they would love to see this place “function”. I will part with this…the very dysfunction that characterizes this great city and region is at the heart of what makes it function. Don’t ever change D.C.!!
The clock now stands at 0:00. I head back south now with a wife, dog, a full moving truck and a book full of memories. It is time to ride down 85 to write a new story of adventure.