Over the course of the past week, I encountered multiple life-changing experiences. It first started with “Jazz in the Garden” with my fellow Capital Scholars Friday evening, which led into my 21st birthday weekend. Despite some tension between us sometimes, the Capital Scholars have always done a great job of pulling together to celebrate for each other’s birthdays. I can definitely attest to this as some took me out Saturday night and made sure that I had a fun, safe night. The following day I third wheeled with Aundrea and her boyfriend Andi, who have both been so nice to me, and we visited the Holocaust Museum. It is such a respectful place and honestly puts one’s life in perspective. After gelato and Mass, we headed over to my birthday dinner where most of the Capital Scholars and two girls I intern with at FRC met us. It was a fun night full of laughs, and was even more special after I was surprised by a very moist, fresh chocolate cake decorated red and blue because I had told Claire that my gramma used to make me flag cakes for my birthday as it was so close to the 4th! I loved ending the night calling my family up and hearing from everyone back home as they were having a birthday party for my brother’s girlfriend who had a recent birthday as well. It was a memorable moment when they went out to our backyard and watched fireworks explode in the sky on my birthday night, and I was reminded how I used to think when I was younger: that fireworks were meant for me as they regularly went off on my birthdays.
While most people had gotten off at least Monday, and two of my roommates had Monday through Wednesday off from work, I unfortunately had to report to duty at 9 AM the following morning. Although it was nice that we did get to leave early, I took advantage of my organization’s free gym. It is pretty nice and I’m not sure why I hadn’t used it earlier.
The following day was the 4th, usually my favorite holiday, and I was in one of my favorite cities, so what could possibly go wrong? While I tend to be a Type A, “planner” kind of person, I provided the Capital Scholars with a thoroughly detailed schedule of possible activities for the day, but of course things did not go exactly according to plan. While I fifth wheeled my roommates, Suzette and Aundrea and their boyfriends, for brunch, Mustafa, Guillermo, and Alex strolled on in with matching flag chubbies shorts and blue dressy shirts. It was definitely an entertaining site to see. Although I was partially disappointed for missing the 4th of July parade, all of my roommates and I had fun getting shelter from the rain and checking out local restaurants near the Mall. After some bonding time, we ventured on the Mall, checked past through security, and staked out a place on the grass of the Capitol Building to listen to the Capitol Fourth Concert and watch the fireworks go off in the distance. Being in awe of the unique fireworks, such as a few smiley faces, light up the sky directly behind the Washington Monument and making memories with close friends definitely was a highlight of that day. While this bucket list experience can be checked off my list, the day ended differently than how it began, and I had to engage in a life-changing conversation with someone I was close with. As if slapped in the face, I was brought back to reality and my present job with work bright and early the next morning.
This weekend I’ve witnessed quite a bit about people. As a “people person,” if you will, it was rather special to me as to how a group of people can grow so quickly together to ultimately assist others to enjoy their birthdays and make them feel exceptional no matter what they were going through. I am learning not only about the types of people here in D.C. and who I surround myself with, but about myself and how I react to different situations. I also am learning that no matter how much effort you put into something, such as planning a detailed 4th of July schedule, sometimes things don’t go as planned and there is nothing you can do about it. While this first-birthday-away-from-home and 4th of July celebration was different from the past flag cakes at gramma’s house and watching fireworks at Tempe Town Lake, it definitely was an unforgettable, life-changing weekend, and I am left with so much more awe and pride in my country after witnessing the city come to life to celebrate its birthday in its Capital.