Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My life in our Nation's Capital..................

I emigrated to America in first home was Washington, D.C.  Coming from a small, old fashioned, English seaside town, arriving in this nation's huge bustling capital was a bit overwhelming to say the least! 

My hometown of Torquay in Devon, England - May 2011

I traveled with another young woman from my hometown.  We worked together in an insurance company office.  It was she who discovered we could come to the USA to work as secretaries, if we signed a contract with a particular employment agency, agreeing that we would stay at least one year in D.C.  

Being adventurous, I soon found myself being interviewed.  After taking shorthand, typing, and secretarial skills tests, and being accepted, I headed to the American Embassy in London for the day-long interview/medical exam etc. which enabled me to get clearance to 'cross the pond' and seek employment. (I had to apply for a Green Card the day after arrival which gave me legal immigrant status). I worked two jobs all Summer, heading to a waitress job after the long day in the insurance office, to save my airfare. I'd never flown on a plane, lived in other than my parents' home, or even crossed the English Channel (which was right on my doorstep) to visit Europe.  But, adventure I did...........leaving for London on a wet October morning, a week before my 19th birthday, hugging my tearful family goodbye, stepping onto a plane bound for New York City, and from there to Washington, D.C. 

.......The old and the new........

Fast forward almost 49 years.......and here I am back in the old capital, enjoying the places which enthralled me so long ago.  Some haven't changed a bit.  Others have disappeared from view as modern buildings have shot into the skies as in all large cities.

Sadly the Washington Monument is closed following damage during a rare East coast earthquake of August 23, followed by the visit from Hurricane Irene last week - cracks have appeared and water damage has occurred - so it's deemed unsafe for tourists.  This monument was visible from my bedroom window during my first months in D.C. when I lived just a few blocks from such places as the White House, the awesome Smithsonian Institution, and most of the national monuments and memorials. At night I loved watching the blinking lights from the pyramid-shaped top of the monument, wondering at times what on earth had possessed me to come so far from my quiet home and my loving family to this large noisy city!

Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument from the car as we dashed into the city under the cloudy skies.

Why was I here this week?  
Beautiful banner outside our Washington hotel.

I wish I could say it was for something creative and artistic, such as revisiting The Phillips Collection where Renoir's amazing  Luncheon of the Boating Party is exhibited, and will soon be followed by Degas's Dancers at the Barre: Point and Counterpoint. I love impressionist paintings and these two French artists are among my favorites.

This quick overnight visit, a 4 hour drive from home, disallowed much sightseeing, shopping, and dining - other than a nice supper with our nephew.  Our reason was to visit the Vietnamese Embassy to apply for a visa!  Yes, another trip coming up later this year. Following the Antipodes adventure, Paula and I will be heading to Thailand and Vietnam!  More on this later.

Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1880-81 ~ Pierre Auguste Renoir


  1. I enjoyed reading of your brave adventure to a new life. I had my first visit to DC in 1965 when I was in the eighth grade. Just think, we were probably within blocks of each other.

    I am so excited about your trip to southeast Asia. I have been intrigued by Thailand since I was in elementary school. I will have to live vicariously through your trip.

  2. Another great adventure...have fun getting ready, planning etc. whilst also prepping for the Antipodes! You certainly have "come a long way, Baby".

  3. What a brave and adventurous young lady you were, and are! I loved hearing about your days in Washington, D.C., and I am so thrilled to hear that you are off soon on another adventure!! I am looking forward to hearing all about it! :-)


  4. What a leap of faith you made Mary. Far more courage that I'd ever have.
    You've certainly got itchy feet with all that travelling!

  5. You're such a gadabout!
    Makes Devon & Cornwall pale into insignificance, almost.

  6. You've had such an interesting life, Mary! And it continues to be interesting and adventure-filled.


  7. Thanks for sharing you story of coming to the US! How brave you were at 19!! I'm glad you came here and I got to meet you!

    The trip sounds really awesome!

  8. You have had so many adventures since first setting off across the pond to our humble shores. I, too, love the impressionist and have experienced so many of the wonderful paintings this summer. Vietnam, oh my, I can't wait to hear about it.

  9. What a wonderful adventure you are living. I would love to visit England someday. All my life my family has talked of England - well, of all of Great Britian and Ireland - as if it was heaven on earth. (No, they were never there either, just the stories passed down from the ones who came from that part of the world, and each generation reminded the next generation it was a wonderful place.) Why did you want to leave? When did you know you could be happy living in another country?

  10. I stayed in Washington for a few days a couple of years ago - what a beautiful city it is. Mind you I love Torquay too.

  11. What an exciting trip that will be. You're going from the Antipodes straight on to Thailand and Vietnam, do I have that right? Yay for you, and Paula, too. Thank you for the Renoir, one of my faves.

  12. No Emm - I'll have a short break back home in between the two upcoming trips, frantically re-packing and rustling up some home cooked dishes for my DH I guess. Poor guy will be tired of restaurants by the end of this year!


  13. I can't wait to hear of all your travel adventures this year.

  14. My goodness! The two of you will be traveling a lot, but I can't wait to see all of the photos!


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