I never really knew Washington, DC despite traveling there every year.
As a kid my family would pack up the van and we would take semi-annual trips to Herndon, VA where my grandparents lived. Despite being 30 minutes away from The District we hardly went inside the beltway, however the sight of the Washington Mormon Temple was a sight I never forgot as a child. It was a sign that we were close to DC and close to the Dulles Toll Road that would take us to grandma’s house.
Flash forward a a few years and I’m a senior at Fitchburg State College, wondering where to go on internship. Nearby Boston was an option and so was Atlanta, headquarters to CNN. Despite being a film/video major I didn’t want to go to LA or New York City like all my other classmates- I wanted to do something different. I remembered the trips to Virginia every year and figured Washington, DC wouldn’t be a bad place to spend a semester.
Little did I know it would become the place I would start my life.
Even though I had an internship offer from Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta, I turned it down when a last minute internship offer sprouted up to work at a small communications firm. Suddenly I had a tough decision: big name in Atlanta or an unknown firm in Arlington, VA. I went for the unknown firm, convinced it would give me a better chance to get a job after graduation. I was offered a job two months into the internship.
Suddenly I was living out my last semester of college as a DC Intern carefree, knowing that my future was lined up ahead of me (something I oddly predicted in high school.) I certainly lived the intern life and loved it: weekends in Adams Morgan, happy hours at Recessions, 3 AM rides on the Metro. I was a suburban kid spending his first time in a big city- and I fell in love immediately.
You see I never imagined myself living in a big city- the thought of a city brought images of crowded, overflowing metropolises into my mind. My big plan was to find a good job in Massachusetts and perhaps live close to home- the townie route. Now I was going to be living in the big city, a young professional starting life and trying to make sense of it all.
I suppose that’s one of the reasons why I love DC- it’s a city full of people like myself: young, bright, energetic post-grads looking to start their lives.
Of course there’s also the social atmosphere as well- because where’s there young people- there’s probably a party. I love that Washington, DC is a place where you can rock out. There is an abundance of little neighborhoods to explore: Dupont Circle, Penn Quarter, Eastern Market. You can’t talk about the nightlife without acknowledging the intersection of Columbia and 18th street known as Adams Morgan. There can’t possibly be another concentration of nightspots like it anywhere else. Sure it’s a place you visit once and never want to revisit- but short of New Orleans there isn’t a bigger party.
It’s not just the party that I love about DC- but it’s also being in the center of it all. Living in the Nation’s Capital means you are where the stories start and end. I could drive from my place in Court House to the White House in under three minutes (of course that’s without traffic.) Who else can say they could do that?
Sure my friends were running into TV stars working in New York or LA but I could run into my own celebrities as well and the names I could run into down here are making a different in the world.
Growing up in New England I was pretty much as close as we got to a minority. Here I am surrounded by the entire world. The diversity is not just reflected in the people that live and work here but in the cuisine as well. Living down here is where I truly discovered Sushi, Kabobs, and Peruvian Chicken. I don’t know how I can live without it now.
When I look back at how my post college life, I can’t think about how I changed as a person without thinking of how living here played a direct role in it.
This place gave me my first job, new friends, and new experiences. The lively arts community gave me another chance to return to theatre and living in the middle of it all means there’s always something going on- always another adventure around the corner.
Even though this is my own DC love story, I love DC because it is a place where I am with others making their own stories- tales that aren’t too different from mine. To know that gives me comfort in this pivotal time in a person’s life, and for that I thank Washington, DC.