Monumental moments


February 19, 2023

The name of this blog post might sound cheesy, but in fact, it’s pretty much exactly what the title says it’s about – moments at the monuments! The monuments?? Well, I live in DC and we’re surrounded by national monuments – we often refer to the National Mall as going to the “monuments” or we shorten it even further to say we’re going “monumenting.” We had a long weekend here and yesterday my friends and I walked from Georgetown to the monuments and spent the morning at the National Mall. With the monuments being such a must-visit spot, I can remember all the times I’ve visited them; first as a tourist, then on my first ever trip alone, then when I first moved into Georgetown, a few times over the past couple of years, and then again yesterday. It’s kind of a fun reflective exercise to think about all the different times I’ve been at that exact place and how different they’ve all been.

In this blog post I wanted to reflect on all those “monumental moments” – haha get it? And look back on all the different times in my life when I’ve been in that exact spot; the national mall will never change, but I have very much changed every time I’ve been standing there.

The first time I visited the monuments was on my first ever trip to DC in 2015! I remember I was celebrating my 13th birthday and we had been visiting all the sights in DC: the White House, the Capital, and we spent most of my birthday on a tour of the Library of Congress. But… I was the most excited about visiting Georgetown Cupcake because my sisters and I loved watching the TV show about the sisters who run the store. I often think back to that first trip because at that point I didn’t even know there was a school called Georgetown in the area and I didn’t have the faintest clue that I might end up moving to DC later down the line. That trip was one of those distant summer memories that I look back on fondly, remembering the sun and the heat and the excitement of everything new and “American” for us tourists. That trip was a ton of selfies with our selfie stick (because yes, that was the time of the selfie stick), the excitement of trying everything we’d seen in American TV shows, and all together just crazy to think back on – I can’t explain how weird it is that now I live here and go on runs to those exact spots some days and it’s just a normal part of my life. I would never have thought that was a possibility at that point. Enjoy some of the photos that I captured on my phone in 2015… not the best quality but they do the trick!

The next time I visited the monuments was around 6 years later, after going through high school, a global pandemic, and getting into Georgetown! (I think we might have potentially come back to DC sometime in the middle to tour Georgetown, but I don’t think we spent time at the monuments, so I’m counting this as my second time). After spending my freshmen year of college online which was brutal, I went on my first ever trip alone and flew from Dubai to DC to meet some of the friends I had made online from classes and spend some time at Georgetown. That was a crazy trip. My first ever time travelling alone and being alone and I went to America!! I remember the whole 15 hour flight I was freaking out and when I got to DC I was so overwhelmed with the new setting. That trip was so important to me in my first real experience being out here in America on my own and my first real experience of homesickness and working through that.

I remember during that trip my friend and I made the goal that we would visit the monuments. We planned out our metro journey and were so proud when we actually successfully made it to the monuments! We rented scooters and went around the national mall which was so much fun and I remember at that moment of the trip feeling like I was taking a big step in building this new life out here. To me, that trip to the monuments represented independence and proved that I could last out here on my own.

The next time I visited the monuments was only a couple of months later when my family moved me into Georgetown for the first time. We were super jet lagged coming from Dubai and were staying pretty near the monuments so we would go in sunrise runs at the monuments everyday. I remember feeling calm and at peace during those moments but riddled with anxiety and nerves during the rest of the time. I remember on my family’s last night here when they dropped me off we drove past the monuments listening to music and that’s a moment I’ll always remember. To me, at that point the monuments represented the question of, “is this what life out here is gonna look like?” and for a while they also represented this sense of nostalgia and homesickness because I would remember the moments here with my family.

Over the past year I visited the monuments a few times but only on runs or walks from Georgetown and each time I would feel super proud that I made it to that point by myself. Each time I made it there I would feel like those nostalgic and homesick feelings were sort of starting to melt away and be replaced with something new. I would always run to the Lincoln Memorial because that side of the Mall is closest to Georgetown and I’d run up all the steps and when I was at the top I’d look out towards the Washington Monument and that was a sorta reflective moment each time I was there. I visited a couple more times last year, one time taking graduation photos with some friends and another time to go see the Cherry Blossoms in the Spring. Each of these trips sort of started to represent something new…

Yesterday, I did my first full trip to the monuments since I first moved here. We have a three day weekend so my friends and I walked from Georgetown all the way to the Washington Monument and I feel like that represented something new for me. It represented the great people that I’ve found out here in DC and the relationships I’ve made out here. It represented the balance I’ve found in my lifestyle, feeling comfortable and not anxious about taking a day off from school work. It represented how far I’ve come in being settled here, not feeling homesick at all out there but just making new memories there. It was very much a reflective moment in thinking about how I was standing in those exact same spots that haven’t changed around eight years ago, but I am so different now. Mind blowing.

I hope that I’ll have many more memories out there at the monuments since I’m planning to stay in DC for a while even after graduation. I know that Georgetown seniors usually have a senior sunrise out there and it’s a tradition to take graduation photos there so I’m looking forward to all those memories to come.

Do you have a place like this where you can think about the different people you’ve been over time when you’ve visited?

See you next week,

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