Feeling Like a Local

So I’m finishing up my ninth week here in D.C., and it just hit me that this is probably the longest amount of time I’ve spent in one place for a while. Obviously, while abroad, I was traveling nearly every week, and even during my most recent semester in New Orleans, I spent my spring break at Orange Beach and Easter weekend home with family. I commute to my 9-5 job and am a regular at my Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, but because it’s so short-term, does that really make me a local? In Paris, I made myself a home, but I was gone so often that my time there was mostly spent studying and running errands. In New Orleans, there is still so much I haven’t done, and I find myself relying on my Louisiana friends to pull me out of the Tulane bubble and introduce me to new places, foods, etc. Even in Roanoke, each time I return home for a bit, I notice that there are many new stores, restaurants, etc. and that the old ones that were so integral to my childhood are now gone. Am I really a local if I spend less than a month there per year?

That being said, whenever I have people visit me in my current home city, I get so excited to show them around and share a piece of my life. This is the best place for happy hour, this is where I work, this is my metro stop, and this is where I grab coffee most mornings. The list goes on. This summer, I have been lucky enough to spend three separate weekends feeling like a local in a city full of temporary interns.

Before I even arrived, my family had planned a trip to visit. They haven’t been able to visit New Orleans since orientation in June 2016, so they were prepared to take full advantage of me being a quick 5-hour drive away. Mom, Dad, Rachel, and Rose all came up, and when I wasn’t at work, we had a solid balance of exploring the city and getting in some good family time. We went to the American History museum, ordered a buffet of ramen, sushi, noodles, and spring rolls at a Chinatown restaurant, and drove all over the city exploring. My favorite moment was probably watching my dad electric scooter around the Mall. The whole weekend was full of bad jokes and chill time, two of my family’s favorite things.

Then, Hannah came to visit! That Friday, she was on her own, so after participating in my morning commute, she went on a tour of the Library of Congress and people-watched at Shake Shack. We met up for happy hour at The Smith, then shared a baguette, cheese, and wine (très français!) for dinner. My apartment hosted a party that evening, followed by a night of dancing and loud music. We spent the rest of the weekend eating brunch at Farmers, Fishers, Bakers, checking out The Wharf, visiting the National Basilica, participating in a drum circle, and walking, walking, walking. We also talked quite a bit about current events and career plans, because what else is there to do in D.C.?

Lastly, this past weekend, my mom came (yes, again). It was an awesome staycation, complete with pizza and wine in bed, a trip to the portrait gallery, dinner at Founding Farmers, and time at the hotel pool. The temperature was over 100 F, so a lot of our time was spent seeking air conditioning and water, but thankfully, my mom gave me an excuse to leave the comfort of my apartment and take advantage of some free time in the city.

Whether or not I can consider myself a local here or anywhere is a complex question, but for now, I’ll just enjoy the opportunities I get to feel like I am for a weekend.

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