Place Where You Live:

Vienna, Virginia

Part of a giant mural, painted on brick wall in the heart of Vienna.

On many warm, pleasant days in the summer, my father would take me and my siblings down to the Freeman Store, a more than hundred year old general store that was founded by Abraham Lydecker, an outspoken supporter of remaining in the Union during the Civil War. Now it’s a museum, run by a woman whose husband was mayor of Vienna for decades. In the refurbished, two-room wooden building, surrounded by old artifacts behind shiny metal cases, we would gleefully pick out different type of colorful candies—jawbreakers, tootsie rolls, gum drops, and my personal favorite, died and flavored rock candy—from large glass jars. We’d take them outside, struggling to climb far up enough the trees to pluck sour apples from their branches. My favorite thing to do (although my brother and sister both hated it) was slip down into a little, smelly, perpetually polluted stream and jump from rock to rock, trying to make it from one end to the other without letting a foot plunge into the murky water, an unfortunate incident my dad jokingly called a “soaker”. Sometimes, we’d bring flashlights and creep down into the huge storm drain tunnels, exploring a little deeper each time. I learned a lot from activities like this, and many others that could only have taken place in my unique, friendly, history-rich town, Vienna, Virginia, which has been and continues to be a huge influence on my life.