Traveling Alone

August was a difficult month, for many reasons. I told one of my best friends recently: I feel like I’ve lost myself. I’ve been pushing myself for so hard for so long I’ve forgotten what makes me happy.

Last week, I learned about the annual Library of Congress National Book Festival, which took place Saturday. A friend and I (both avid readers) decided to check it out. It was madness. I couldn’t believe the crowds and felt proud to be among such a city of nerds.

And I remembered how much I love to learn, whether that’s about the sting acceleration of a jellyfish (up to 5 million g) or the divided friendship between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. I may feel a little astray right now, but when it comes to learning and exploring something new, I am never lost. 

That’s why today I decided I would wake up and start the day at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, which I’ve never visited. It was humid and reached above 90 degrees °F. With a few metro stations shut down, I had to take a different route to get there. And with Labor Day crowds at the beach or still at home recovering from the Book Fest, it was quite peaceful.

When I first moved to DC four years ago, I didn’t know many people. In addition to joining meet-up groups and volunteering my time for nonprofits, I also explored many places alone. And when I look back on some of my fondest memories here, it encompasses those moments when I was alone – traveling, learning, connecting with passersby and just being.

So today, when I sat on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial and looked out across the Tidal Basin at the Washington Monument, I thought: I am not lost. I don’t know where I’m going, but I am okay, right here, right now.

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