Culture

A young woman goes to washington: Running through the streets in her cherished wrinkled suit

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It was a girl’s road trip. Or rather it was a girl’s about-to-graduate-college-looking-for-their-next-role road trip.  We drove down eagerly from upstate New York down to Washington, DC. She had been down there previously in eight grads as part of a school trip.  She remembered the grimy hotel and the craziness of eight-graders having their first trip outside of New York without their families.  It had been a tad much to process. She still had memories of the fantastic Smithsonian Air and Space museum.  Perhaps she would get a chance to visit there again. That is, if there was time.

 

This trip was strategic. It held the future.  She had no idea what she wanted to do with life after college. She was driven but didn’t know which would be the road she would take to hightail it out of college. She got into law school. She got into film school. To very divergent paths. Here she was arriving in DC to interview for a special position at the Department of Justice. Seemed impressive and important. Surely, however, a mere college graduate could not do anything so impressive therein.

 

They arrived in the DC suburbs. Back then the suburbs were not as grand. Arlington was just starting to take off. DC was still a bit grimy but you could taste the power in the air.  They unloaded the car with their very small bags. They then took to the metro. It was cleaner than New York and simpler. We made our way to a mixer in Chevy Chase. They had been told beforehand this was a very nice area to be in. There was a circle. Apparently, DC has a lot of traffic circles. DC reminded her of Spain, and in particular, Madrid that had a huge number of traffic circles. Circles were meant to keep you guessing and spinning. It was appropriate that this was her first real job interview of importance.  Everything was confusing and everything was new and invigorating.  The mixer was filled with College alums who held powerful positions in law and media.  Again, you could taste the power in the air. There had been some name dropping but she just nodded in agreement and pocketed the names. One day they may be important at that moment, they were just names.

 

Thereafter they made their way to a television studio in an area called Tenley town. It looked a bit empty. Years later that area would be booming with the new power players –IT folks.   They walked about the studio and got some great tips from their alumni contact. He had decided to drop his law practice and become a news reporter.  This was his first few months. He was happy and dapper. Years later she would see him on the national news and feel a twinge of delight. There was a name she had pocketed.

 

The next day they awoke bright and early wondering what was to come. What had they accomplished thus far?  Her two friends dropped her off at the Interview location. They agreed to meet back in two hours at location X.  This was the time before cell phones. Of course, if you said meet at said location that is where you would meet.  She was dressed up in her version of a power suit.  She had saved up money for that little suit. It was a treasured possession. She couldn’t really afford to dry clean it so she used lint brushes and hand hurried hand strokes to spiff it up.  She dreamed of the day she could afford dry cleaning or even a new suit.  It would happen. She knew it would. It just had to.

 

She entered the building and went through security. She sat and waited for her interviewer to come on down. There she was in the hallowed halls of justice.  There was definitely a huge scent of power that overwhelmed the taste buds. She wanted this job. She wanted to make a difference. She wanted to be an adult.  Her interviewer came down and immediately a warm rapport was built. Her interviewer was a strong woman who had an air of vulnerability about her. You knew right away she was no-nonsense and by the plaques on her wall she was rather accomplished. Yet, you could see in her eyes there was a troubled history, a past that haunted her a bit.  They bonded immediately. She told her interviewer who listened intently to her about her poor upbringing and how a sense of justice ran through her veins. She told her interviewer about her mother’s love of books and how her mother would take her little red shopping cart through the South Bronx to check out books (10 at a time) for her to read at night. The interviewer relished the stories and inhaled them in.  The interviewer was a smoker, she could see it and smell it on her.  She inhaled everything in the room and every word that was spoken. Her love of books was inhaled by the interviewer and exhaled back at her. It left an odd sensation on her skin.

 

She was then shuffled to three other interviewers. She had not expected that.  She then looked down at her watch. It was already three hours. She became anxious. How would her friends know where to find her? Where would she find them?  A follow up interview occurred. A tour of the justice halls occurred. She delighted in the grandness of the halls and its darkness. It was rather dark. Light was not something that shined throughout.  This lent to a further sense of anxiety. The interviews ended and she was escorted to the front entrance. She shook the interviewer’s hands and looked one more time into her eyes. She knew she had the job. She could feel it.

 

She ran down the wide DC street and pulled out a pre-addressed thank you note. She dropped it in the mailbox.  She had been taught well that you always send a thank you note.  Her interviewer would hopefully get it the next day or so. She ran around the block nervously darting to and around the touring crowds. Where were her friends?  She was late and had no way of letting them know. At that moment she wished there was such an economical thing as a small phone she could have. Growing up many in her neighborhoods had beepers. But that was not a thing for her college or college mates.  She had no beeper so beep. She ran around the wide DC streets again and three more times. Her suit was getting sweaty and wrinkled. She could not afford to get it dry cleaned. She needed to calm down. She walked around more time. There they were at the corner looking mildly annoyed and perplexed and then relieved. It was amazing to see so many emotions concurrently on someone’s face as you ran towards them excitedly and anxiously.  They hugged and talked about the future.

 

Four months later two of them would be living in DC as roommates taking on the world and the happy hour scene. But that is a tale for another day.

 

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9 replies »

  1. Psychologistmimi — your name alone drew me! Myself a Mimi and occupational therapist with a love of psychology, I look forward to reading more from you. I grew up the DC burbs, before cell phones, and could “feel” the excitement and anxiety of your main character on those streets.

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