Driving around Washington DC is different from driving anywhere else. Today, on the way to the airport, we were driving past one beautiful, stately building after another before it occurred to me to pay attention to the signs outside the buildings. The Embassy of Bolivia, the Embassy of Brazil… well, no wonder. We drove along the Potomac and saw one monument after another, Jefferson, Lincoln, Washington, some of them close up, some in the distance. I could see the dome of the Capitol building, far away, and also Robert E Lee’s mansion.

Suddenly, sharp memories of the first trip I ever took to Washington DC began to overwhelm me. I came with my mother. It may have been the first time I ever stayed in a hotel. It was a trip I won, by spelling; I was 12 years old, and I’d come to Washington to compete in the National Spelling Bee.

The next year, when I came to compete in the bee for the second time, my entire family came along. I didn’t do particularly well in the bee (either time! ^_^). But that’s okay. I got to travel. I got to see a place I probably wouldn’t have otherwise, and you know what, it’s kind of an amazing place. I can’t believe that was 23 years ago. And here I am now, back in the same place, again for a pretty cool reason.

To my utter surprise, this morning in the car, as these memories came flooding back, I finally found the time, and the heart space, to feel some pride for Bitterblue. During a book tour, you’re tired, sometimes nervous, away from home, trying not to leave things behind in your hotel rooms, trying to catch airplanes. You’re trying really hard to keep everything together and do a good job. You don’t really have a lot of time to think about why you’re doing this.

Thank you to Washington DC for bringing back some memories, reminding me why I’m here, and giving me a moment of pride.