They say when you meet the one, you just know. It’s the thrill. It’s the magic. It’s the joy. It’s the romance. It’s the respect you have for him, and he for you. It’s the way he makes you feel like the most beautiful creature in the world.
For me, DC is undeniably the one. I’ve flirted with Paris and set up house with St. Louis. I eloped with Brussels and begged for New York to have me. But it’s DC, my childhood home, that turned out to be the love of my life. Washington was the guy next door that took me by surprise and became my knight in shining armor.
How do I know? Like any woman knows: my heart tells me it is so. It’s the shiver of a thrill I get every time I see the alabaster glow of the Washington Monument. It’s the magic of an evening at the Kennedy Center, or of walking down the street where Duke Ellington got his start. It’s the deep respect I have for the fascinating history that quietly lies within every street corner. It’s the joy of watching the niñitos splash in the fountain of Columbia Heights Plaza, or of walking down the layered waterfall steps of Meridian Hill Park. It’s the exotic romance of living amid a beautiful mess of languages, cultures and ethnicities, every one of which makes the city a richer, better place. And of course, I can’t deny the devilish good looks of the city’s stately row houses and magnificent architecture.
Like any good lover, DC accepts me for who I am. There were other cities that required its natives were better dressed, better looking, more accomplished, and more fascinating. They were out of my league. Not DC. The District has seen me in my sweats, without makeup, and still makes me feel like a million bucks. Maybe it’s because the city has low standards. But I prefer to think it’s Washington’s unpretentious vibe that makes me feel so comfortable in my own skin. I don’t have to pretend here – I can just be me.
But most importantly, DC is the strong pair of arms that gives me the security and stability of knowing I am home. Even when I’ve lived elsewhere, DC has maintained a gravitational pull on my heart, drawing me back time and again. It gives me a sense of place and identity, and has become as much a part of who I am as my blue eyes or ugly feet. At this point, it’s not fair to say I choose to live here; I need to live here. As I’ve learned through a somewhat painful trial and error, Washington is a necessary precondition to my happiness. Just as Heathcliff needed Catherine, and Juliet her Romeo, I need DC.
So I’m done with other destinations. I don’t want to wander, and I don’t want to stray. I just want to wake up in the morning, look out the window, and see my city next to me. And when I do, I’ll whisper “Honey, I’m home.”