This past weekend the naine, the laps, and myself went down to Washington, DC to take in the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Well, that was the official excuse to go down to my old hometown, but it was probably chosen because, when you live in New York, your only other options are Philadelphia, Boston, and...Hartford? No, just Philadelphia and Boston.
Going to DC at this date was exciting for me. I left DC much as I have left every other place - fed-up, with a lot of ex-friends, some bad habits, and a desire to "get the hell out of town." But going down south I started thinking about how I wound up in our nation's capital anyway? How did I wind up spending three and a half years in Washington, DC. What exactly happened there and what did I learn from that experience?
The whole DC-life is really worth a memoir. But what surprused me as I walked past the sets of that TV show called "My College Life" was that few aroused any feeling in me. The bench where the homeless celebrity (we had lots of homeless celebrities on campus) Sean used to sit, before he was recognized in a "Most Wanted" poster and subsequently arrested for a 1986 kidnapping rape was still there. The blinding white lights and plastic smell of Tower Records were still in full blossom - where I used to spend hours not doing homework and touching CDs wishing I was making them. The window to my ex-girlfriend's room was still there, where I used to leave flowers I had broken off from the garden outside the police station down the street.
I mean I spent a lot of time in that town - but for some reason it was if those days were long gone and perhaps had never really happened at all. I even saw my old journalism professor Steve Roberts - and I imagined that, yes, I had been in his class. But was I? That was so many moons ago.
I wondered if the rest of my life would proceed the same way . If every memory of today would be paved over by fuzzy familiarity. I am slowly growing - but even when I look down the tree of life - even four branches down - it still seems like I am perched atop an intimidating summit.
When I was in DC I did a lot of things I wouldn't do today. I joined radical student organizations and fully bought into the emotions of the "revolutionary" that is, I read books by people that had died sad, lonely deaths. I filled my lungs with anger - and in DC - my anger was directed towards overachievers and khaki pants. I wonder where did I go wrong in my pursuit of life? Why did it take me so long to figure out the very simple things?
If I were any wiser I would never have gotten into ideologies that encourage emotional self-immolation. And I would have dumped troubled friends faster and more mercilessly. I also would have tried even less to please people who never can be pleased. I should have also realized that college is just one stop on a bus and that I should just do what I was there to do and get out when I could. I shouldn't have wasted so much time on fruitless activities.
As my graduation time approached I was relieved and tense. I couldn't wait to "get out" of school and "graduate" to real life. I was right about that. "Real life" is much more rewarding and productive. And I get paid. Which is nice. I made a lot of good friends in school and learned many lessons - mostly outside the classroom. But I am sure it was worth it in its own way. I am just glad that I am not there any longer.