Wednesday, June 24, 2015

"No One in Our Family Moves"-A New Life Away Series

So today I remembered that my grandparents have the Internet. This is a new development, actually, so it is not abnormal that I would forget. This solidified the idea that has been rattling around in my head since I got here, which is to revive the study abroad style blog for the purposes of reflecting on and telling others about my new life in DC.

Wait, what?

So let's back up a little. For those of you who do not know, I accepted a job at the Institute of Medicine out of the National Academies. I am a Senior Program Assistant, which, right now, for my team, means that I plan big meetings. This particular position comes with some perks, including that the meetings are about global health, so I get to be immersed in that world all day long, even if from a bit of a distance. Not to mention, I get to actually go to all the meetings I plan- even the international ones!

I could have never predicted I would end up here. This was one of the few jobs that I applied to that was out of state, and in a whirlwind month, I went from being a college graduate living at home with no job (I had another offer, so that's not totally true), to picking up my whole life and moving it halfway across the country.

That's cool Mariah, but lots of people do that. Why do you want to blog about it?

The number one reason, as it is for everything, is family. My family was maybe even more overwhelmed with this move than I was. This is not a normal thing to do for us. As my mother says, "No one in our family moves." To illustrate this concept, my Mexican great-grandparents (mom's side) met in Minnesota. (So did all of my great-grandparents, I believe.) They raised their children in St. Paul, who raised their children in St. Paul, and those children (and their children and now even adorable little grandchildren) are largely all within one hour's driving distance of each other. The only ones who are not are in the military. So, just like my military family members being far away, me being far away feels like a big deal to me and to my family. I want to treat it like the big deal it feels like, and for me, that means writing.

The primary reason for this blog is communication with my family. I know that I can always pick up the phone or FaceTime- and I will, I promise! But the written word is a good way of letting everyone know little stories they might not otherwise hear and updating more frequently. Plus, this is a great tool to tell my grandparents how I am doing at midnight (I'm a night owl and often busy during the day) in a way the telephone would not be.

There is also a strong secondary reason for starting this again, and that is for reflection. I keep a journal, but the more public reflection space is different. It helps me look at a broader picture and how I might put these feelings into words for others, which sometimes helps me make sense of things. It helps me remember to be a little bit like a child or a tourist, two often pejorative terms that I see as excellent ways to find the wonder in everything and to not be afraid to make mistakes. And it helps me to stay positive. A public blog encourages me to think about what I type and to cast it in a more positive light so that my dear family doesn't worry over me. Some people might call this stretching the truth or even lying by omission, but I find that the silver linings I look for when writing don't just exist in my blog. Instead, this exercise in thinking positively often changes my whole outlook. That makes blogging really awesome for me!

So, any updates?

I have been here for just over a week, and I really like my job so far. My team is great. I haven't loved the city so much because I hadn't seen much of it. I was still tying to figure out the metro and I always came back to the house I stay at too tired and too hot to do much exploring. 

I am staying with my Dad's old friends in Arlington, and they are great- they have fun kids, they feed me dinner a lot, and I enjoy hanging out with the family. I have the entire basement to myself as sort of the room I am "renting," but we share a kitchen space, so we see a good amount of each other. It is fun to sort of be in a host family situation again.

Today and yesterday, I finally did some exploring, especially today. The weather was gorgeous, there was a Peru festival on the lawn near the Capitol, I saw two friends and went to an amazing restaurant, and even went to a cultural program at my work during the lunch hour. There is so much to learn here! There is so much to learn everywhere, but DC is unparalleled in this regard, I think, because there are so many free and intentional opportunities. Most of the museums are free, and I can't wait to start exploring. It almost makes up for the horrendous cost of living, which is double the rent in St. Paul easily. Almost. 

(I get to move into my too-expensive place this weekend and I am so excited to have my first apartment. Updates to follow.)