Eve on D.C.

One doesn’t actually have to go looking hard for that true Washington, D.C. experience.

Just living in the city makes it seep into your pores, and before you know it, it takes a hold of your very soul.

I know this is true because it happened to me. I arrived in the District of Columbia in late August, gung-ho to see everything, to do all the tourist things.

I was under the delusion that seeing everything there is to see would make it a perfect experience.

Yet I discovered that the true D.C. experience is not necessarily in visiting every single tourist attraction, but in experiencing the everyday wonders hidden behind the more glamorous points of interest.

Taking time to walk the city, ride the metro, go to cafes and bars, experience the tastes of every country through the multitude of culturally diverse restaurants — these are just some of the things that must be undertaken just as vigorously by anyone visiting the famous tourist attractions.

But for me, nothing in the District of Columbia compares to walking through the Capitol building.

Every day, I feast my eyes on it twice during my commute. I get the daytime look and then the evening look for free.

Viewing the Capitol on a daily basis has had a strange effect on me. I’ve fallen head over heels in love with the utter beauty and magnificence it radiates.

I cannot stop myself from taking picture after picture of the Capitol, from every imaginable angle and at all times of the day, just to see the lighting change on the building.

There is really no way to excuse my photograph-taking sprees. I have so many duplicates that it far exceeds logical reasoning. You could call me a parent who can’t stop cooing and taking endless pictures of her brand-new baby.

It’s just that the newness and excitement derived from seeing the Capitol haven’t worn away with time, as many might expect them to have.

Today, just one look at the Capitol still sends a shock of amazement and wonder through me.

Seeing it is a wake-up call: I am here in Washington, D.C. I am a part of and connected to something larger.

The things I’d only read or seen in the history books are now irreversibly a part of my life. The Capitol, Washington Monument, the Supreme Court and the White House are just some of the historical places that are now a part of my daily existence.

This is what I love about living in D.C.: Here, history is not dead and found only in dusty old books, but remains alive forever in the stone and marble buildings.

Here, one feels at the center of the universe. It is where everything seems possible, which is what I find so completely intoxicating about life in this city.

And as I sit here on the steps of the Capitol at 7 p.m., I remain enchanted with the awesome sight of the light shining through the building — what I affectionately like to call the “”light of freedom,”” blazing brilliantly and endlessly through the night.

But then reality comes crashing down. The Secret Service’s black Suburban idles to a stop in front of me to take a cursory look in my general direction, its police radio crackling loudly.

The reality of the terrorist attacks floods back to me, and I tense up, checking my surroundings furtively to see whether I’m safe.

Another noise overpowers that of the radio static — a metallic, squeaky noise. Intrigued, I search with my eyes to find the source of that noise.

My heart catches as my eyes rest upon the American flag rippling in the harsh wind, flying high and strong over the Capitol building, echoing our nation’s resolve.

The magic of the Capitol, of the District of Columbia, hits me again. I realize that as long as our American flag is still there, nothing else matters.

I love Washington, D.C. I wouldn’t want to be in any other place now or in the future. I know when I return to San Diego in December, I will be leaving my heart in this city.

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