The beginning of conversation at just about any DC get together: “So what do you do? Where are you from? Where’d ya go to school?” We’re all from somewhere else; a fact very much on everyone’s mind as Thanksgiving travel looms. This past weekend I spent a bunch of time in airports myself, traveling to/from a college friend’s wedding. The experience of strange airports, and hotels took me back to the start of my life in DC. Then (1999), Washington was a shiny new airport called “National.” It was hotel lobbies and university tours. It was coffees at “XandO Cafe” and “Kramer Books”… and it was infinite excitement at even the possibility of an [unpaid] internship that would spread democracy (somehow) through my best efforts… on a copy machine.
I’d be willing to bet that many of us can recall some variation on this theme in our own DC story. It’s an important part of DC’s identity and culture: So many of us are from somewhere else. So many of us arrived in this place in need of hospitality, vulnerable to one extent or another. On the flip side, the shared experience of moving to DC disposes our fellow citizens to give hospitality to visitors and new arrivals.
…All good stuff to think on as we travel the highways and byways later this week… and even more so as all roads lead back to Washington after the holiday.
For further reading, consider ethicist Leon Kass’ excellent book, “The Hungry Soul.” In it, Dr. Kass maintains that all the best dimensions of our humanity (including the vulnerability/hospitality dynamic above) play out in the experience of dining… which is another wonderfully Washingtonian experience! Happy Thanksgiving DC!