This week’s picture is almost exactly 13 years old – it’s from just a couple of weeks after I moved to the DC area in the beginning of February 1998. I did not, despite what the photo might suggest, come to town for any kind of lofty position that would land me in the White House briefing room. Nothing, in fact, could be further from the truth, given that I arrived unemployed and spent several months sleeping in my sister’s guest room down in Fredericksburg.
Being as I was very new to town and knew almost nobody, Eileen was good about inviting me along when she was doing things with her friends. She went to school in Fredericksburg and had worked in DC for a couple of years at that point, and as a result was fairly plugged in. One night, I joined her at a party somewhere on Capitol Hill, and ended up chatting with a guy who also happened to be from New York. I remember him being pleased to find fellow New Yorkers, and for that reason, he invited us to join him on a White House tour he was giving a few nights later.
(This is not quite as random as it sounds. He was a friend of Michelle – the girl throwing the party, who had been one of Eileen’s college roommates – and she was going on the tour, too. So it was a fairly average friend-of-a-friend situation for my sister, and I just lucked in for being family.)
Though I didn’t know it at the time, I was getting the “good” White House tour – the after-hours one with a staffer. The typical tourist visit is the East Wing tour, where all you see is the ceremonial rooms, but the staff tour goes through the West Wing and you get to see all the behind-the-scenes places. In our case, because our guide worked for the National Security
Administration Agency, we got to see the Situation Room, which was pretty damn cool – as was the Oval Office, of course. (This was the height of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, and we had a chance to glimpse the entrance to the back hallway that loomed so large in that sordid tale. Icky, yes, but it also made an impressive story for the folks back home.) We also took a pass through the press briefing room – where this photo was taken, and which is so much smaller than it looks on television – and finished up in the Rose Garden.
I’m not gonna lie – it seemed like an extremely glamorous start to my life in DC. I kinda thought that maybe that’s how life was here… that everyone gets randomly invited to the White House all the time. Alas, however, it was not to be. It was more than a decade before I ever made it back there, and, well, I had to stay outside.
Do you have photos from your past that you’re willing to share – and a blog to post them on? Play along with Wayback Wednesday by linking back to this post or sharing in the comments so I can snoop into your past, too!