As many of my dear readers know, I relocated from South Carolina to Pennsylvania for a new job. Not to put it mildly, but this position is my dream job. It combines the things I’m interested in with an institution I’ve long admired: the National Archives and Records Administration.
To recap, I have been living in Philadelphia (Philly) for close to three weeks now and, I must say, the city is starting to grow on me. While I miss the space of living in the South and the typical Southern foods, Philly is alive and bustling with activity. New foods to try, new places to explore, and new activities screaming for my attention. In the time I’ve been here, I’ve expanded my culinary palate by trying Ethiopian food and different variations on Indian cuisine. I’ve explored new areas and checked out local one-of-a-kind shops. I even had the opportunity to meet The Roots at a free event.
All of these activities aside, my job is all I hoped it would be. At times, I take a second to absorb it all. And in the back of my mind, I wonder “is this all a dream?” Am I going to wake up and all of this has gone away? That I’ll wake up unemployed back in my old SC apartment. Other times, I find myself inwardly giddy. My excitement makes me want to move. To do something to capture how excited I really am.
Working for the federal government is serious business. There’s a lot of things to know and procedures to follow. But, what has been the biggest wake up about the federal government is the sheer volume of the record collections. Now, I’ve worked with large collections before, at least I considered them to be large, but the government surpasses them all. Often times, one collection or record group is housed in one room by itself. Imagine: 14 feet tall shelves spanning the length of a room and there’s row after row after row after row… It literally took my breath away.
In one room, some of the records for NASA were kept and I felt that rise of giddiness. I have been a long-time admirer of NASA ever since I got my first telescope when I was ten years old. I looked out into the stars and dreamed of space. What’s out there? And, more importantly, I want to see it. But,unless I suddenly become a math genius and an astronaut my chances of visiting outer space are somewhat limited. For now, I’ll settle for being the custodian to those records. Just looking at the labels on the boxes and seeing the “National Aeronautics and Space Administration” in 12-point font made me feel part of something larger than myself.
It made me proud to be an archivist.