My first time in Washington, D.C. was not special. I remember spending most of my time working in my dorm room and in the Senate Press Gallery of the Capitol building. I never saw as much as I wanted to. I walked the National Mall and went to museums dozens of times, but I never took the time to explore as much as I should.
I visited a friend in D.C. over the break and I wanted to makeup for lost time. Instead of keeping my head down and avoiding human interaction, I made it a goal to get out and notice the small things.
Stickers decorated lamp posts, signs and row house stoops. Graffiti sprinkled throughout the city fueled political discourse. Murals spanning two story buildings only added to perspectives in which we question how we view ourselves and others like swimming through a sea of life, encountering others with a wide-eyed, curious caution.
It wasn’t the urban artwork or political debates that warmed me more to the city. It was the people. Students, researchers, activists, bankers and others from all over the world inhabit the city. With them they brought their story. Some bear financial struggles; some seek to change the system, but each person wanted you to understand their life — their goals.
Washington has a different atmosphere. People have things to do and places to be. You’ll see them speed walking or running to make their train. If you look carefully, you’ll see moments of peace wash over the faces. It may come from a student at a restaurant looking toward the soft, overcast sky as she sits with her father. Or it’ll come from a Metro passenger listening to the whoosh of the subway speeding underground in near darkness.
I explored D.C. more in four days than I did in three months. It makes me wonder how much I’ve missed in Albuquerque — a place I’ve lived in for 21 years.
Anthony Jackson is photo editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TonyAnjackson.