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First Adventure :: Amtrak-My Black Journey 

Age 6 at Lincoln Memorial-Washington, DC

My late great-aunt Bessie Goolsby lived in Washington, DC, for 30 years. She considered her P Street and Florida Avenue address to be in Shaw, though newcomers might argue she dwelled in the Truxton Circle neighborhood. My first vacation was spending a summer with our iron-fisted matriarch, affectionately known as Bess Goo. I cherish the memories of time I spent as her shadow as she crossed the Potomac River to clean fancy houses. I’d sit my six-year-old self at the bottom of staircases and sing along with the zooming sounds of the vacuum cleaner.

Instead of showering me with hugs and kisses, Aunt Bess Goo taught me the value of instincts, without them one can’t maneuver through the maze of life. She was a staunch penny pincher and her migration from small town south (in the 1960s) to the “Federal City” is a lasting inspiration of self-reliance. This winter, I decided to explore the District of Columbiaand the adjacent city of Alexandria, Virginia. The monumental buildings of the National Mall and Old Town take me back to the time I spent with the woman who single-handedly gave me a set of wings to be independent and explore.

The District and Alexandria, Virginia, are home to the largest Ethiopian immigrant population outside of that African country. I’ve drunk a ton of hipster-endorsed java, but nothing compares to a traditional coffee ceremony at Hawwi Ethiopian Cafe & Restaurant Cafe.

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