Because, because, because… Why I love DC is always changing. I don’t know if it’s me growing or if it’s the city that’s actually changing. I can’t tell anymore. But I do know, that I didn’t love DC for a long time. I wanted to move to someplace more exciting: Paris, London, LA, San Francisco, Chicago! But I’m still here, so what’s keeping me here?
My first day in DC was when I moved into Georgetown. My dad was following me around with a camera the entire day, so that even when I’m not smiling, I can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was my first day in DC. I loved living in Georgetown. I loved that I could wander on to M Street for lunch and probably come back with bags and bags of new things from any number of stores. I loved that being in the middle of a large city gave me incredible part time job opportunities that other campuses didn’t have. But Georgetown is a bubble. Its quaint European-style streets and stores suck you in, and you have no reason to leave.
After I graduated, the song was suddenly playing to a new tune. I moved to Dupont, rode the metro, started going on runs further than across the Key Bridge and back, and went to Arlington! Then, I made the big step of moving to Chinatown while it still wasn’t quite the place you wanted to be living.
I’ve grown up in DC in a lot of ways. The city has shaped who I am and who I want to be. It’s made me into the passionate volunteer, loyal friend, and world-focused woman that I’m proud to be today. And in return, I’m happy to see that my dedication to the city and my persistence in staying here has allowed the city a little time to mature. New, good and exciting restaurants open weekly in my neighborhood in Chinatown. The hottest thing since the invention of sliced bread, Obama, came to our city, and all of the sudden chic New York-esque restaurants, bars and clubs are popping up all over the place. Despite the fact that I hope DC slows down and holds on to its roots (I don’t WANT DC to be like New York), it’s undoubtedly exciting to see how much the city is growing. Crowds of young people are flooding the city, and why shouldn’t they?
DC is an amazing place, and it’s growing and changing, but this is why I really love DC:
Pride in the History and the Power
I love it when my sister calls and I tell her that “I’m just hanging out at the Mall” and she gets all confused. She has an instant flash to me being an old lady doing laps in a shopping mall before she clicks back to reality. Despite some pretty pathetic efforts to be a tourist in my own city - I may not have seen all the museums (like I said, pathetic, I know, I know) – I like that I can turn this incredibly historic place into an everyday backyard. I love calling my parents to say “I just went on a run through the Cherry Blossoms” or “I just saw Obama at the Wizards Game.” Or even “I just ran to the White House to celebrate Georgetown being in the Final Four.” People dream of coming to this city, and I love the spoiled-child feeling of knowing that all this wealth of history and power is in our backyard, and I feel pretty darn proud of that.
It’s Good to be Different
I’m from Kansas City, and holding your own with people from the East Coast is downright intimidating when you tell them your humble beginnings. But one of the BEST things about DC is that everyone is from everywhere. It makes the city that much more interesting to be able to meet people from other cultures and with other values. I think it makes us a stronger community, as long as all parties are open minded, which is usually the case. It really enriches the lives of all of us by having friends who are different. I love walking down the street and actually NOT having any idea what language that person was just speaking. I love that there a dozen GOOD Ethiopian restaurants. I love that you could visit any number of countries in a single day, on a single block, by taking a tour of all the different embassies. And I love that my friends aren’t just like me.
And the number one reason why I love DC, and truly the basest after the first two, Happy Hour! (I can just hear my friends giggling in the background…) It’s just my style. Maybe it’s just me, but I have no patience to wait for fun to happen. In New York and LA, you have to sit around and wait until 10 pm to have dinner or to start hanging out with friends. That’s just not my thing (10 pm is bedtime!). I’m all about heading out from a hard day at the office (at 5 nonetheless!) and meeting up with any number of friends, and friends of friends, and making lots of new friends. And DC just has what it takes when it comes to Happy Hour. It’s practically an institution here. How else would we all meet the other interesting people with whom we share this city?
So after 7 years in this city, I’ve decided to stick it out for a while longer. I don’t feel like I can leave NOW when things are just getting GOOD! So I’ll settle for the fact that from DC I can drive to Annapolis in 20 minutes, take the bus to NY for 30 dollars, or be in Paris the next morning. Maybe that is why so many people in DC are from other places? No matter how much it changes or how much you change, you easily feel proud to be here and that you belong here.