I moved desk spaces about a month ago. When I was packing up to move from one side of the office to the other, it felt like a good time to do some thinning out. I’d sat at that desk for four years and had, over that time, accumulated a good number of drawings and school photos from the kids, Post-It notes that friends had left when they visited the office, and, taped to the cubicle partition to the left of my computer monitor, one faded cover of the Washington Post Express from the day after the US women’s national team won the World Cup. The picture was snapped right after Carli Lloyd completed her hat trick in the final game. The players’ open-mouthed screaming, the culmination of a lifetime of hard work, was something I wanted to look at every day.
The last time the World Cup was on, I had just moved to DC. I remember watching semi-final matches on your couch in the dark and Joel coming home and saying he’d thought I’d been murdered, he could hear me screaming from the street. For the final, I watched it with other DC Ags at Penn Quarter downtown and went to Chipotle after with Rachel, one of the first few times we hung out. Later that summer, my co-worker Janine and I drove out to Pittsburgh to see the US team play Costa Rica at Heinz Field on their victory tour.
So many of the memories of my first few months in DC are tied to the USWNT. It seems only fitting that the US kicked off another World Cup with a record-breaking victory over Thailand was the same day that I gave my notice at the RIAA. The cover of the Express the following day, was a photo similar to the one I’d cut out and looked at every day for the last four years, except Megan Rapinoe’s hair was pink instead of platinum blonde.
I’ve got my last day on Friday; starting July 1, I’ll be a full time freelancer.
I don’t feel like I’m ready, like I haven’t done enough to prepare, like I’m missing something big that I’m only going to remember the moment my full-time employment and all that comes with it--a regular paycheck, health insurance, stability, access to a rooftop deck in downtown DC--terminates at 5 PM on Friday.
I remember when I visited DC my senior year of college to watch the kids while you and Joel were at Jazz Fest. I was driving back from dropping Raphael off at daycare in Virginia, coming down North Carolina and passing Lincoln Park where the sun was shining through the trees and out of nowhere I felt this overwhelming panic and called Mom crying and saying, “I don’t want to move here.” And she said, “No one is making you do that.” And I said, “I know, but also I could really see myself living here. But that’s not part of my plan! My plan is to live in Texas!” And she said, “Again, no one is making you move to DC. This is really a non-issue.”
I had this whole plan to graduate from A&M and get married and have a house in the hill country and raise wild and stubborn and beautiful babies and grow sunflowers and write every day. Even entertaining the idea of a life in DC was enough to make me panic.
At the end of last month, Kev and I moved into a new house in Park View. We signed a two-year lease, meaning, at the very least, I’ll have been in DC for six years before I go anywhere else. I did all of the practical things first like building a bed frame and hanging all my clothes in the closet but it didn’t feel like home until I started to hang art on the walls.
The first thing that went up in my desk space, not yet knowing if I’d be going freelance but thinking that it was a very real possibility, was a poster that Katie sent me for my birthday last year: the infamous photo of Brandi Chastain after she made her shot against China in the World Cup finals in 1999. Two desks, four years apart, made complete by women’s soccer.
Who knows if I ever would’ve found my way to this next phase of my life if I hadn’t worked for the RIAA, if I hadn’t moved to DC, if I hadn’t fallen in love with this city the first time I visited you in the third grade with Momo and Uncle Gerard, if I hadn’t watched the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup? I’m convinced it’s all connected somehow. Thanks for introducing me to this city and changing my life.