Yesterday I ventured into DC to meet up with some friends who are in town for a school field trip. Normally, I would politely decline, but these aren’t just any friends. These are friends from the place I still secretly long for and day dream about–Coral Springs, Florida. Not to mention these friends are from the church we attended and the affiliated school where I worked. Thick ties, people, I was going into DC.
I prepared heavily–the van was loaded with a full tank of gas, snacks, diapers, wipes, movies, juice boxes and toys. Oh, we only live 45 minutes away from DC, but for once in my life I was going to be prepared.
This post may mean nothing to you if you are from a big city, were raised in a big city, or are just familiar with big city living. This girl is none of those things. Y’all, there are like a MILLION people in DC on an average day, and yesterday I promise there were 3 million. For some reason this didn’t intimidate me like it should have.
So off we go to DC in a rolling grocery store, and everything’s great until we actually get into the District. Hmmm, my husband was right, there’s no street parking like you find on the weekend.
That’s OK, I’m prepared for this. My GPS tells me there’s parking at the Ronald Reagan Building. I parked and confidently exited the parking garage with two kids in a double stroller. I asked the security guard, “Which way to the Capitol?”
“THE CAPITOL?!”, he laughs and says, “That’s FOURTEEN BLOCKS from here.” A bit shaken, I pulled up the Capitol on my iPhone and realize, “Hey, fourteen blocks is only a mile. I’ll be about 15 minutes later than expected–no biggie.”
I stopped halfway and got the boys some treats and tried not to think about the fourteen block hike back. When I reached the Capitol, I find it’s roped off for a Police Memorial so I can’t enter to meet my friends. This is starting to get annoying.
Then I had a stroke of genius–I’ll meet them at their HOTEL! A bit more shaken and lacking confidence in my directional intuition, I asked a nearby DC police officer where the hotel was. He pointed and directed me on my way–right to one of the Smithsonians. At least that’s where I ended up.
I’m telling you the truth, once you get into DC, you are basically in a concrete maze. Every building–whether it’s the Department of Justice or a department store–looks exactly the same. Asking yet another police officer, I found my way to the right street and saw what appeared to be a bright green “Holiday Inn” sign.
Did I mention I’d been needing a restroom for the last 18 blocks? Did I mention the baby had fallen asleep, and I couldn’t just leave him outside in the stroller while I utilized any restroom I might have found?
I ran into the hotel and located the restrooms, only to find the stroller wouldn’t fit through the restroom door. This is the moment it came full circle and I became very very thankful for the Police Memorial taking place at the roped-off Capitol.
A police officer sees me dancing outside the restroom trying to cram the stroller in and says, “Ma’am, I’ll be glad to stand with your kids so you can go in.” I tell him my husband is in federal law enforcement, and he gave me his card and an official patch he was carrying for the event that day. Just wow.
I thanked him profusely then turned to find the elevators. That’s when I saw several familiar faces running towards me, arms outstretched. I didn’t even shush them to not wake the baby. I just fell into the moment of finding what I was looking for. All the stress and sweat of the previous 90 minutes vanished in the midst of hearts reunited in a hotel lobby.
I got to see John, who was Bradley’s kindergarten helper and (don’t tell anyone) my favorite student ever. I chatted with Kim, a former ballet student of mine who said she thought about us “almost” every day. I told her not a day went by I didn’t think about my friends in Florida. Stacy had grown a foot and Mariah–who was in my Sunday school class–was a little lady. It was bliss.
I think this is only a small glimpse at what stepping into eternity will feel like. In this life we’re all experiencing highs and lows along the way. We think we’ve done everything we can to prepare, and still life proves to us we are no match for it. We approach a goal, only to find it roped-off and just out of reach. We endure long intervals of feeling lost and spent, yet frequently enjoy small glimpses of grace and mercy from others. Overall it’s quite an exhausting journey. But one day–one day–we will fall into the moment of what we were looking for.
For this momentary affliction is producing for us
an eternal glory, far beyond compare.
2 Corinthians 4:17