Week Three: Sitting at the Table

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Sunday, June 16, 2019


Megan Anderson

Go on, pull up a seat. The third week of the SPS internship is now in the books, and it’s time for another reflection. 


Seat 1: It’s a few minutes past noon at the American Center for Physics, and you’re seated in a sturdy wooden chair on the patio. You pull out your lunch as other SPS interns join, pulling up chairs and even a table. Conversation drifts from work subjects to D&D to philosophical problems. You get up refreshed, and it’s not just because you were outside.

Seat 2: You share your dorm room with someone you met less than a month ago, but you each get your own desk; the space begins to feel a little more like home. A black plastic chair supports you and the swivel base welcomes movement. After all, it welcomed your movement here, didn’t it? Perhaps a room of one’s own is overrated.

Seat 3: SPS takes you on a dinner cruise along the Potomac, and you spend the first half hour or so feeling the boat’s engine buzz into action below your blue-cushioned seat. You order and proceed to eat a three-course meal alongside fellow interns, staff members, and executive committee members. You witness a fiery sunset and discuss new research in quantum computing. You talk and laugh and eventually leave your seat to hit the dance floor for the remainder of the evening. The versatility of this physics group floors you in the best of ways.


Seat 4: Can you hear it? The beautifully sketchy sounds of karaoke on a Friday night! Thank goodness your group got a private room. You’re perched on the velvet couch until it’s your turn to assist with Total Eclipse of the Heart. Next up is Uptown Funk. The funk you felt earlier this week vanishes and you even manage to forget that you’re tired from the week.

Seat 5: You’re moments away from a bit classier of a musical experience on Saturday evening, but the seat feels a lot like the one you sat in last night; you’re sinking into a plush chair just a few rows back from the National Orchestral Institute’s specially-selected orchestra. A Grammy-winning conductor comes on stage and you clap politely. The music begins. Tower, Harbinson, Piston, Gershwin. You voluntarily get up from your chair at the very end, clapping with conviction this time.


Seat 6: Your past professor, a political science expert, invites you to take a seat on one of the five worn chairs in his kitchen/living room. He calls this shoebox 'home' for the summer, describing it as “grad school chic,” and he brings an impressive amount of food out of the little kitchen. You begin eating with the three other students there, and the conversation weaves around everything from each person's tourist experiences to the democratic debate to the possibility of alien civilizations. After dinner, your professor takes everyone on a walking tour to the Capitol Building. He explains the symbolism behind the architecture and tells stories from the past couple hundred years. The buildings just sit there, silently affirming the form of government your country chose not so terribly long ago.  

Seat 7: Rewind to a few days earlier. Sit on the laminate wood floor of 211 and smell the tantalizing aromas of macaroni & cheese. It's the final stage of a cook off! Three of your fellow interns have prepared their versions of the delicacy, and everyone votes. It’s the best kind of Tuesday evening excitement.

Seat 8: You say “yes” to a moonlight jog with fellow interns and are rewarded with a few peaceful minutes sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Feel the cool marble of monument steps supporting you. Perhaps even supporting your country? People stand in 40s clothing at the bottom of the steps and you notice that cameras are keeping them company. You learn that there will soon be a new miniseries on HBO. You stay seated a little longer.


 Thank you to SPS for giving us seats at so many tables and with such good company. 

Megan Anderson