In the Spring of 1993, when most of my friends were headed to sandy beaches during Spring Break of our senior year of college, I hopped on a plane and jetted off to Washington DC where I hoped to land a job. I knew no one, had no connections or "ins," and this was before the internet. Fortunately, I landed an internship at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which to this day remains the best job I've ever had. I did good work that changed lives.
That three month internship led to my first real job as a legal assistant at Hogan & Hartson LLC (now Hogan Lovells LLC). Being a legal assistant may sound boring, but I loved many aspects of it. I worked for an incredible group of litigators and spent a good amount of time in court. They gave me opportunities beyond my years because they believed in me and I never failed to rise to the challenge.
At Hogan, I made incredible friends. Kelly, Kalee, Kristin, Karen, Rose, Brooke, Kevin, Sarah, Sarah, Debbie, Alicia, Rick, Brad, and Jackie. Just to name a few. We worked hard, but our antics were the things of legends. Many of them, I can't recount here. I also dated some interesting men. The most interesting was the guy I quickly learned was the grandson of Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the Enola Gay. He talked about it all the time. It was honestly a little much.
I was involved in politics, played intramural flag football, hosted many friends and family members, attended church and Christmas Eve services at Washington National Cathedral, attended a memorial service in honor of the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery, sat in the Senate Gallery during a very tense night of discussions on the budget debate, cite checked briefs for the Supreme Court for John Roberts (he worked for Hogan at the time I did), toured the White House multiple times including once in the West Wing, and generally had the time of my life. Yes, D.C. was a wonderful place to spend my 20s.
I moved back from Washington DC on May 1, 2000, a little over 14 years ago. Although I've found my place in Chicago, not a week goes by that I don't think about those seven years and wonder "what might my life be like if I hadn't left?"
Don't misunderstand me, I love being closer to my family. My mom is less than 40 minutes away; aunts, uncles, and cousins are mostly within a small radius of a few hours; Dave is six hours away; and my dad is three hours away. I get to see them all on a regular basis, a perk that didn't exist when I was in D.C., and because I live on the North Shore, I am often reminded that these are the roads and villages where my Gardner relatives have lived for a century and I feel their presence.
Washington DC just felt like home to me from the moment I first stepped off the airplane in 1993. And I'll always miss it.
Want to read more about my Washington DC adventures? Check out these posts:
- Cherry Blossom Festival
- Mrs. Paulk Goes to Washington
- 10 Years Ago
- A Washington DC Christmas
- My First DC Experience
- Flying First Class and the Kindness of Strangers
- National Memorial Day Concert
- My Love Affair with Michael Jordan
- Happy Birthday Betsey and Ross
Don't miss some pictures of my DC days below.
Welcome to ChicagoNow's Blogapalooz-Hour!
Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to publish a post in one hour. Here is tonight's challenge:
“Write about a person, place or thing that you miss.”
Your first thought may go to a person that you miss, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
You might be nostalgic for your college years, or missing a loved one that may have passed or moved away? Maybe your favorite lipstick was discontinued? Perhaps ‘Different Strokes’ was your favorite television show? Really, you can take this assignment in whatever direction you want.
The main idea is to participate, be creative, and let your thoughts flow. Use words, images or video. Whatever you need to tell your story.
Be aware of the time. No matter when you finish, please wait until 10 p.m. to publish. Above all, please respect the deadline.
You have one hour.
You can also receive immediate notification of each blog post by typing your email address in the box below and clicking the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.