Growing up two hours from Washington D.C. was always a treat for me. The number of field trips I've been on to go explore our nation's capital were endless. I hit up every monument at least a dozen times going through elementary school. Then once I got to high school the trips were a little more intensive and focused. There was the Holocaust Memorial Museum with the German Club. And the Smithsonian for Chemistry. The Washington D.C. Zoo for Biology. And the White House for History. The list goes on and on.
Along for those dozens of D.C. trips was my mother. She was a steadfast. At the end of my thirteen years of pre-college education I think she could draw a tourist map of the area with her eyes closed and one hand tied behind her back. She was older and more mature than me and never took one museum or monument for granted. She was always busy trying to get me to appreciate this aspect of my childhood. I was busy thumbing through my notebook for a blank piece of paper to write my boyfriend (who didn't get to come on the trip) a letter of how much I had missed him that day and how these field trips to D.C. get SO OLD.
Even though I was usually busy crushing on some boy or making jokes with my friends, every trip was unique and exciting for me in its own way. However, there was always one that stood out more than the rest. It didn't involve an entrance fee or getting your hand stamped though. It was something more.
My mother's birthday falls at the end of March which coincidentally is when the cherry blossoms start to bloom on the National Mall where the Washington Monument lays down its shadow. One year while we still lived up north my mother decided that the only thing she wanted to do to celebrate was take the train into D.C. and lunch picnic-style beneath the cherry blossoms.
As a teenager I thought, "EASY ENOUGH FOR ME."
Little did I know it would be one of the most memorable trips to Washington I would ever make. The Mall was jam-packed with people as usual that day. Dogs bombarded us wanting to get a free pet on the back. Frisbees zoomed by barely missing us. There was kiteflying galore. You could hear the hot dog carts ringing their bells and the nonstop car traffic that is a city. There was noise everywhere. But even with all of the commotion going on around me I still remember it as one of the most peaceful moments of my life. It was just my mom and I enjoying each others company for hours. We were chatting and laughing, probably talking prom dresses or what my first car should be. There was no anxiety. All was right with the world it seemed. I can remember being in the moment and never wanting it to end. It's still a moment I wish I could relive over a thousand times more.
I may not remember how many bones the T-REX at the Smithsonian has or the exact quote the plague that sits below Lincoln says but I will never forget the smell of those cherry blossom trees that day and the sight of my mother resting beneath them.