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.
“or past the various hidden wonders, like that gorgeous school across from National Geographic. ”
be jealous, tom. i work in that school. (well, technically, the smaller school building in the courtyard.) but still. i love it dearly.
i stumbled across this site today (something in DCist about a mass exodus sent me here) and i just wanted to share – i love DC, too! and i’m not a transient political junkie, either. :)
ps. i noticed you sang with choral groups? which ones, per chance? i’m in a few, myself.
I love that building *so* much. It is nothing short of amazing. I’ve always wanted to see the inside!
I sang with Choralis, and its chamber group Echos, as well as a couple other church choirs in NoVA.
i haven’t been to the museum on the corner yet, but our office is four open-plan office floors with unfinished concrete floors, exposed pipes and wiring, and small accents of awesome modern things like lamps and chairs. (we’re an architecture firm.) so different from the outside.
i believe i know people in Choralis – i’m in the Washington Revels, and i think there were some people in last year’s show in that group. i also sing with the 18th Street Singers, and i think some of our members used to sing with the big DC choirs (Washington Chorus, Master Chorale, etc). i love that the dc choir scene is big yet totally accessible.
hey – the new blog is great as is this entry! i get so tired of people who complain about DC… because really, if you think it stinks that badly, well, you should move. i love DC too. you don’t expect to fall in love, and it doesn’t happen immediately… but it’s a great town.
I just moved to Arlington for a new job a couple months ago, so I do not yet share your love of DC. Right now I find it all a bit overwhelming. I really did enjoy reading your post and maybe in time I will feel the same way.
It takes some getting used to, Liz. I didn’t love DC until about 3-4 years ago. There’s a lot of hidden wonder in this city, and that’s some of the best of it.
This series of posts is giving me the warm fuzzies. DC definitely takes a little time to get to know – but that makes the discoveries even more special. I’ve been here almost as long as you, Tom. It took about three years for the “hey, this is awesome!” lightbulb to go off, and I feel like I’ve still only explored a small percentage of what’s waiting to be found.
I’ve been here 5 years, and I’m still waiting for that lightbulb.
So your blog is called “We Love DC,” but you live in Arlington? That’s like a guy telling his girlfriend that he loves her, but he needs to keep seeing other people.
Or are you referring to all of the Metro area including NoVa as “DC?” In which case you definitely don’t love DC, because nobody who loves or gets this city would actually do that.
Dear idontgetit, you are obnoxious. But I am glad you have been given the gift of self reflection…at least enough to be able to ever-so-aptly label yourself “idontgetit”.
I too haved moved (unfortunately) from SF to DC. And you know what, DC sucks for the following reasons:
1) People don’t really create anything here. They postion themselves to get into a stream of power or money.
2) People here are unattractive.
3) Cultural opportunities are very limited and usually quite boring.
4) Food here is bad. The average neighborhood place in SF is better than most of the hearlded places in DC.
5) With a few exceptions (9:30 club), the music scene here is a joke.
6) The weather is bad. Spring is a mixture of hot and cold, not warm. Winter is cold. I’ll admit some snow can be fun. Summer is icky and humid. Fall can be nice.
Sure over time, the slow lobotimization of what you once knew and commmon sense takes place so you feel better and “like” DC. But it’s a farce. Go to SF or NYC for the weekend and then face the truth. DC SUCKS!!!
I’m headed to SF this weekend, and while I’m excited about seeing a city I enjoy, I think that Alex Payne’s Critique of San Francisco is perfectly apt.
And I really don’t think that the average DC person is that unattractive. Or culturally “limited” or “boring”, or the weather is awful. Well, maybe compared to SF the weather isn’t great, but the maxim that “I never spent a colder winter than a summer in San Francisco” is pretty apt.
So, really, SF Resident, I think you’re just homesick, and I feel bad for you, as you’re lashing out against a city that deserves your respect.
The average person here is very unattractive. It is not just their physcical appearance, it is how they carry themselves and the clothes they wear and thier interests. The weather is awful and so is the food and the music scene. You know it’s true. Where is the DC equivalent of the Mission’s bars, clubs and eateries? It ain’t U st, Dupont or Adams Morgan. Where is DC’s group of people who have the cultural intensity of SF’s many underground groups including the Burning Man crowd who each year head up to Blackrock and throw tons of great pre and post parties? It simply doesn’t exist in DC and the main motivation for most in DC is finding the best way to get into the political power stream to start sucking the blood of innocent Americans who simply do not understand how much they get screwed by Washington DC everyday. Sodom and Gomorrah isn’t in SF, it’s in DC.
You lost me at “I love Arlington.” DC has its charms, but they end at the river.
well then, you have a lot in common with awesomedc.com I check out for fun stuff. Keep up the good work :-)
It is all what we want to make of it but I am with I LOVE DC!!!!!