A few days ago, a guy I was pen pals with in 8th grade friended me on Facebook.
I had “met” him on my 8th grade trip to D.C. when I was 13 years old. I stayed in a room in the Omni Shoreham with my middle school friends. We were the slightly nerdy “smart girls” and I had no idea how to interact with a boy (I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 16). I would mostly freeze up around them and stare and later swoon over my crushes.
In this case, it was late evenign and we were in our room on the fourth or fifth floor and across the courtyard a group of guys from Massachusetts waved at us from their window. Somehow (I believe they put up a sign with their phone no.) we started talking to them on the phone. I don’t even think I was that involved in the conversation. But we talked with them until 3 a.m., taking turns, and then exchanged addresses (this was before e-mail). My diary says I got my first letter from Jeremy on March 4, 1991: “I want to meet him. I’m dying. It’s a weird feeling. My espophagus – throat all the way down to my heart is warm. I love the world and life.”
I must have exchanged letters with Jon and Jeremy for about two years, and I have no recollection how it stopped. I never did meet them.
I had lived in D.C. for two full years and walked by the Omni several times before it dawned on me that that was hotel I had stayed in on that trip. It was an “Oh my God!” Eureka moment.
That was the trip I fell in love with D.C. I bought a green journal meant to look like stone malachite from the Smithsonian store. In the diary, on Feb. 20, 1991, I wrote: “This is the most beautiful city I have ever seen.” I remember seeing the Washington Monument for the first time and the reflection pool leading to the Lincoln Memorial and watching the changing of the guards at Arlington Cemetary.
My friend C. lives across the street from the Omni, and I often have Sunday dinners at his place. His friend K. gave me a ride home a few weeks ago, and when we walked out of C.’s place, I looked at the Omni and told him my 8th grade story.
Then, a few days ago, Jeremy, my old pen pal, friended me on Facebook. He apparently lives in D.C.