This weekend I hosted my parents in Northern Virginia/Washington, DC. They’ve been here before, but it’s been a few years and a lot has changed since their last visit. For one thing, there are new buildings, new restaurants, and new stores throughout Northern Virginia. The Mall has a new Smithsonian museum—The National Museum of African American History and Culture. I live in a new condo, in a new neighborhood and a new zip code, and as part of that process I have purchased new furniture and decor, completely transforming all they have previously known to be associated with me and where I live.
I have a newish job. My social circle has changed as friends of mine they have met have moved away to other states and new ones have entered my life, albeit at a cautiously slow pace. I am older, my cat is fatter and things are overall…different. I may not have moved far, but so much about this area has changed since they were last here. It was like a new vacation despite the fact that they have visited before.
And they have changed too, I noticed. They aren’t elderly, and they are both healthy, but they are also both slower than I remember (although this city is pretty fast). They tire faster. They don’t hear as well as they used to (granted, NoVa and DC have become pretty loud places when you venture from home; restaurants like to blare their music, traffic is in surround sound, and you can hear everyone’s conversations). For the first time since living here and hosting them, they seemed more Midwestern than ever in this fast-paced East Coast environment.
And in many, many ways, it was comforting, endearing. These are the people who raised me. They brought with them to NoVa/DC the values and comforts I grew up with and have since lost in this crazy part of the country: the appreciation for a good, wholesome breakfast at a local diner (thank you Bob and Ediths!); a sense of patience in this impatient world (politeness in the face of appalling customer service); delight in nature and animals (the National Zoo continues to bring them joy); and awe and amazement at the fast-paced, cut-throat world I live in.
Sometimes we need reminders of where we come from, whether our origins are good or bad, we still need to remember where we started out and who helped us get to where we are today.