There’s this tree on Roosevelt Island. Or at least there was. Toppled onto its side, roots and limbs exposed, trunk decaying – uprooted. I ran by this tree nearly every day during my first month here. Sometimes I wouldn’t notice it, other times I would stop and stare. At one point I stopped and took a picture of it, artfully crafting some Instagram caption detailing how I am this tree – I have been toppled onto my side, vulnerability and fears exposed, decaying – I am uprooted. But I never posted it. I continued on with my run, and my day, and my week, eventually forgetting about this tree. Eventually forgetting about my exposed limbs and vulnerability, my insecurity and uncertainty. I stopped trying so hard to take root here – to continuously dig into this foreign soil and force this raw and exposed version of myself into it. I set down the shovel and walked away.
It’s been weeks since I took that photo, and something has clicked. I’ve fallen in love with my job; I’m finally sleeping through the night; and I’ve connected with some fantastic people. I wake up, look out my window, and smile. I no longer feel like I’m just surviving, but I’m yearning to thrive. I’m yearning to take on the challenging assignments, to go to the Senate hearing without being asked, to talk to the stranger on the group run, to prioritize my health. Virginia and DC no longer feel like a strange, foreign land. It feels like home. I think I’ve taken root – A tiny, wisp of a root is settling into the soil here.
I’m reminded of freshman year of college, when I was unsure of what to call “home” – my dorm or my parent’s home. And while Indiana will always have my heart, I think, for right now, I’m home. Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. is home. I feel safe. I feel welcomed. The more I discover here the more I realize that I belong. I have learned that home is not bound by geographic lines or where you were raised or even how often you get lost trying to find Target, it’s the people. It’s the experience. I may be miles from my family and the only city I’ve ever known, but something tells me I’m home. Perhaps it’s the community I’m forming – finding a friend I can confide in and look up to, even if it’s on a 6 a.m. run; finding the courage to start a conversation with someone in the trailhead parking lot; finding solace and inspiration in work and my colleagues. I’m finding my people. There’s something to be said for having a community. For seeing familiar faces, faces you know you can trust. If I’ve learned anything the last seven weeks, it’s the importance of community. The people you surround yourself with – the roots with which you share the soil – that’s home.
Some photos from the last month of adventures, featuring the Shenandoah: