by Lucas Thomas
Tonight is my last night in Washington and the finality of my looming departure has taken a toll in the last two days. Saturday saw a large chunk of the core group leave, and Sunday was huge because Adam left early in the morning. Jon Boy peaces out at ten in the morning tomorrow and I’m gone at five in the afternoon. Despite a series of circumstances that have prohibited me from making a “clean break” from the city when I leave tomorrow, the moment feels heavy. I know I will be back shortly but knowing everybody, including Amos, will be gone assures me that I will never really be “back” to where I was this summer.
The people I came in contact this summer have delighted me every day. Even the police officers, I am delighted to have spent the evening in their graces. I came across a black man dressed in a white-hooded cloak. I hung out with Phill Grimes in his camper for two hours. Phill claims to be the man people have dubbed responsible for legalizing marijuana in America. I shook Paul McCartney’s hand and walked past Ben Stein on the sidewalk. I met Martin Deschamps, a disabled musician that kills it on guitar and can sing like Louis Armstrong. All of this was new to me, and that is the common element of these experiences that create such vivid memories. Memories I am thankful to have, yet aware of their price. A certain youthful innocence was lost in it all. Things will never seem as new to me as they did this summer.
What made this summer so curiously hard to let go is tough to identify. The unknown always fascinates people. There was a lot of unknown in late May when I arrived: the people, the internship, the media, the pace of the city, the personality of the city. I tried to stay away from forming expectations on those topics because I knew for absolute certainty that whatever idea I came up with was based on 100% speculation. Not knowing a damn thing about any of the things that will begin to have an immediate impact scares the shit out of you early on. Especially when considering this was my first bit of exposure to a major media market. I had no idea if my peers were going to be experienced, or more apt to handle what was going to be required to survive in this setting. Unsure whether or not you will be the weak link can be a troubling thought, it manifests deep in your brain. Now on my last night, hanging on at 2AM as one of the last threads of the summer program, I realize the naïveté that bred those insecurities. I can say that I’ve come along way these past two months in that regard; understanding that there is more reason to embrace these changes rather than be intimidated by them. The pit in my stomach that has existed the past few days takes me back to the day I arrived. It’s the same feeling. Then it came from feeling unprepared. Now it comes from taking myself away from the very place that has dispelled those notions that two months ago bothered me. I know I’m better off for it, but it is a bittersweet goodbye.
So I leave Washington, with many things. None of them really tangible all I have are my clothes and laptop which I am typing on now. But lots of intangible things. Assurance. Experience. A network. A record. A culmination of adventures, sometimes disastrous and sometimes glorious. And in their own ways all of these things blend together causing a perfect storm within myself. I can’t put my finger on it exactly but I know it’s there. I can feel it. And so that storm brews and I leave this city behind with a strange sense of confidence in the unknown.