This is the first of a series of posts from our authors, designed to give you a peek into who we are, beyond what you’ve read from us in the past. We’ll be featuring two authors a day for the next week in this space, as well as our usual features. We hope you enjoy!
I never intended to fall in love with DC.
Hell, I never intended to stay here so long. I got here in July of 2000, eight years ago this past weekend, after being offered a tech job in Courthouse. I was supposed to be working with a little startup, my own little piece of the dotconomy. Until they went broke. Before I even started. I asked the leasing office what my options were. The secretary snapped her gum, and said, “Well, there are provisions for death or bankruptcy.”
Neither was appealing.
I worked for another startup for the better part of a year, I was their front desk man. Despite my degree in Political Science, I was a secretary. Because I had no desire to work in domestic politics. I felt that it was all bullshit posturing, and that none of it meant much of anything.
I watched as the town hummed and buzzed with an election cycle. I watched as my co-workers came bleary eyed into the office the day after the election, none of us knowing what was going on, despite all of Tim Russert’s whiteboard work.
I grew dissatisfied with my work, dissatisfied with the guy who was cooking the books and making my life hard with various vendors. I rode the Metro in early, I came home late. I was a hermit. I drank in Old Town at Murphy’s once a week. My year was nearly up, and my friend Lisa knew that I was about ready to head back to California. She knew how I felt about DC. She said, “Tom, you don’t hate DC. You hate your job. Get a new job and stay another year.”
She was right. I got a job I actually liked, moved to Cherrydale where I could walk to the metro, and started to fall in love with the town. I went on long walks at lunch, wandering from my Thomas Circle office past the Australian Embassy, or down to Union Station, or past the various hidden wonders, like that gorgeous school across from National Geographic. I stayed. I reupped.
I love the traffic circles, though they’re designed to confuse and disorient. I love the quadrants, though they wreak havoc on directions. I love looking at the Capitol and still getting excited about what it all represents, and those who’ve stood in that place and made the choices on behalf of the nation they served. I love the Jefferson Memorial in March. I love it in October, for that matter. I love Arlington, and the mélange it represents; a balance between suburb and city.
I love the Nationals. I love singing with the various choral groups I’ve had the opportunity to perform with. I love the people I’ve come to know through all the weird little twists and turns of what would be called “small town networking” anywhere else. I love all the great places to eat and drink in this town, many of which are small enough to have “regulars,” still. I love all the independent spots, the unique things like Ben’s Chili Bowl, like Dickey’s Frozen Custard, like 2 Amy’s.
I love this city for being full of hidden wonders. I love this city for being full of amazing and talented people who have nothing to do with the big political machine that dominates the landscape. Artists, musicians, writers, business people, all of them separate and free from the architecture of power that always seems to raise my blood pressure. I love what they make this town: more than just Capitol, but thriving American Metropolis, unique and delightful. A town made more of human relationships than political forces.
I didn’t expect to fall in love with another city after I’d fallen for San Francisco. But DC did it. Despite my best intentions.