Graduation weekend was fantastic. Good time with friends, family, great food. We even got into the city one afternoon to see some art. For me, the most interesting part of the weekend was the family aspect. My mom is from Washington, D.C., so every time we go back to DC it is like a mini family reunion. You have to understand that the closest family we have within the range of first cousins are in Oklahoma, over 370 miles away. We have no family of that closeness in state, and we live in a huge state. That means that when we go back to DC, it is a somewhat rare walk down memory lane. This weekend was no different.
My mom grew up in DC and has two sisters who still live there. They have three kids between them that still live in the DC area. So at any time in DC, people from five families can show up, and that is just in town relatives. It is also pretty common for out of town relatives to be “passing through” as well.
Not growing up near relatives, time with extended family is rare, and interesting because we end up hearing stories about our parents and their siblings that we never knew. This weekend was no different. We heard stories of my mom and her closest sister and things they would do and games they would play. We heard stories of aunts and uncles, grandparents and great grandparents. I even drove by my great grandmother’s house and visited my grandparents house, the house my mom grew up in. The owner was kind enough to let us look inside and tour the first floor. I saw mantles for fire places I recognized from pictures of my grandparents. I saw the scenes of some of the stories I heard, like moving the buzzer under the dining room carpet. I walked the sidewalks my mom and aunts walked growing up. I visited the places they played and could imagine the scenes they described. It was like going back in time.
The more I venture into this life of self-discovery and try and glimpse into my future, the more relevant I find the past.
I sit down with relatives and hear stories of my family and see the places these stories took place and I feel as though they tell some of my story too. I look into them and see some of the characteristics playing out that I later inherit. I see the values quickly shaped and then lived out decades later. Every time I go to DC, I seem to take a trip into my family’s past and always come out understanding more of myself.
Here is a picture of my grandparent’s house, the one my mom grew up in. It is located off Massachusetts Ave between the National Cathedral and the Naval Observatory. If you look here, it will show you where it is. I show you this map because this is the scene and backdrop to many of the stories I have heard over the years. This is the setting of the play I run in my mind to live into what my mom grew up in. From childhood playing in the neighborhood, to Christmas parties with government officials, to drives to school with tanks in the streets during city riots, to visits to the White House. DC is a different town, but for them it was and is very normal. It was their setting, and for many years, the backdrop of their lives. It is so fun to go visit and get to live more into the stories of their lives, and understand where mine come from more and more.
What are some of your favorite family stories?