Letter: My Journey From Laguna to Washington, D.C.

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It was 50 years ago this month I left Laguna for Capitol Hill. Back then, this former USC Trojan was living in a garage on Bluebird while commuting to UCLA as a graduate student.  Thankfully, my father realized I needed something new, so he arranged for me to work for Rep. Don Edwards, a family friend my dad helped get elected to Congress a decade earlier. I must have sensed he was right because I eagerly accepted the chance to move east.

From my first day on the job, I knew I’d be happy in Washington.  Not only were my fellow staffers—Zoe, Sarah, Jim and Doris—my age, they were warm and welcoming.  So were Alan and Ailsa.  They may have been 20 years older than the rest of us, but we all worked well together.  In short order, I felt like we were family.

Every day at least one of my friends taught me something new. Chief among the lessons I learned was how to write. Six months after arriving in D.C., I submitted my first-ever letter to the editor to a newspaper. To my surprise, the Washington Post published it. Months later, the Los Angeles Times ran a letter I submitted as did the Washington Star. I think it’s safe to say by then I was hooked not only on politics, but writing. It’s something I do virtually every day now. To date, more than 1,600 of my letters and commentaries have been published in newspapers and magazines coast to coast. My guess is 200 of them have run in Laguna’s various publications over the years.

I often tell people when I sit down to write, I hear the voices of my family, childhood friends and SC fraternity brothers ringing in my ears. After 50 years, it’s time I acknowledge my Washington co-workers as well. One of them most certainly was Zoe. You may know her now as Rep. Zoe Lofgren. She currently serves on the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.

If you live as long as I have, you know life is not a straight line. It is a series of twists and turns, ups and downs, celebrations and disappointments. Trust me, I’ve experienced them all. I often wonder how my life would have turned out had I continued living in that garage on Bluebird? Thanks, dad, for helping me find my way to Washington.

Denny Freidenrich, Laguna Beach      

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