In all the rush, I never even said goodbye to my parents. I arrived at National alone. It was the old National then–an unused practically abandoned airport with an outdated terminal, even though it’s an entirely different airport, I still call it national.
The humidity was a shock, having lived in California for my entire life. I shed my jacket as soon as I got outside.
I took a cab in to the city, marveled at the Potomac at night and the Kennedy center reflected on the black river. I still hold that the District is the most majestic in the evening, either lit up by fireworks or by conventional means. DC, when I picture it, and describe it to others, is always in the evening.
I saw the the washington monument and the white house and a few executive buildings. Later, I would find out that the cab driver took the long way around so that he could charge me more zones.
And thus began my college education.
I didn’t know what to expect. I thought it was too late to explore the campus, (I’d learn later that nothing is too late) and all I had was my carry on bag with a day’s worth of clothes and the rest of my traveling cash. My checked baggage had been lost along the way.
After getting my keys and finding my dorm room, I called them from a payphone in the hallway.
I let them know that I was alive and that I had arrived safely.
I was in Anderson Hall. One of the oldest residence halls on campus, and it showed. The walls were cinder block, with paint peeling away in many places. The floors were cold, hard linoleum. The convector worked at moving air, but whether or not it was supposed to be cold, I didn’t know. I never had air conditioning before.
Rugged, dull grey curtains gave way to ancient, thin windows with cranks. One wall had a long plank of wood attached to it. I would find out later that it was a desk.
Bookshelves barely hung on to walls. What passed for closets were areas between walls with horizontal poles where I could hang clothes.
My sheets were in the luggage that the airline lost, so I spent the first night in Washington, DC in my traveling clothes, my jacket bundled up into a makeshift pillow, on a bare mattress.
I was home.