Sunshine & Orange Juice On Second Street

"You are only free when you realize you belong no place- you belong every place- no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great."  - Maya Angelou

"So where are you from, Laura?"

This seemingly simple question usually leads to the response: "would you like the short version or the long version?"

The term "Navy Brat" or "Military Brat" is an affectionate description of a child who has grown up living in a military family.  Typically it means they've moved around the United States and or overseas with their military parent(s) and they struggle to identify with a home town.  

The short version of my answer is "San Diego" but that's only because it was the last town I left my military parents in, before I joined the Navy myself.

The long version includes being born in the United Kingdom and living in five countries and attending nine schools by the age of seventeen.  By the time I'm done rambling about all the places I've been to, but I'm not actually from, I realize that I don't really have an answer or a true sense of belonging anywhere.

I was reminded of this today, when  I happened to visit the Florida House on Capitol Hill.

I was killing time between meetings when I came across a sign inviting the public in for a photography display inside the Florida House.  Now I'm not sure if this Florida artist also brought the 70 degree weather with him (in February!) but I'm always interested in seeing another photographer's work.

Front Room of the Florida House With Original Stain Glass Windows

I rang the doorbell and was greeted by Steve who proceeded to take me on a tour of a gorgeous, restored Victorian house, after offering me a glass of orange juice (I now realize why orange juice and not water, duh!).  The house has a fascinating history that's worth reading about. Did you know that Florida is the only state to have an embassy in D.C.? Steve proudly told me the story of how they opened in the early 70's, and at one time the plan was for every state to have an embassy, but only Florida has successfully pulled it off.

The Florida House sits across the street from the Supreme Court and has amazing views of the U.S. Capitol dome framed in almost every west-facing window and door.    How cool is that?! Visit D.C. and if you happen to be from Florida you have a beautiful, free gathering place with "sunshine-warm hospitality."  

I have to admit, I was a little jealous that I am not from Florida, even though I spent some of my military time training there. This impromptu visit got me thinking about how such a simple concept helps to connect others just with a common bond and a sense of belonging.  

Maybe I need to open up a Military Brat House.

Not the Original Fireplace But Was Purchased in Georgetown & Very Fitting with its Sea Shells.

Laura Hatcher is a retired Naval Officer, Mother, Harley Rider and Published Professional Photographer located in Northern Virginia.

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