Why do I love DC? Because I HATE DRIVING.
I guess I’ve changed a whole lot since I was 17 years old, when I kind of loved my summer job delivering food for Wing Zone around the suburbs of Atlanta. I met plenty of characters, sure, and getting tips for the first time felt like playing a slot machine! But the best part to me was driving around all day, blasting music for just me and the wings in the backseat. To me, this was freedom; no bosses watching over me every second and complete control over my playlist.
These days when I contemplate driving, pleasant memories of deliveries, road trips, and burning donuts in parking lots don’t come to me immediately. Mostly I think about how I got a $100 parking ticket* within a week of moving here, then got harassed for not having DC plates. Or I think about that time someone threw a brick through my side window just days before Christmas, while my car was parked in front of a church, in order to steal nothing more than a couple awesome CDs like Smashing Pumpkins’ “Zeitgeist” and a sweet mix I made called “Maximum Chillaximum”.
District at Night, photo by author
I think about how much I hate driving around searching for a parking spot. I don’t even hate the physical act of parallel parking; I just get anxious when I cause other drivers to wait for me (or alter their route in any way). What if they’re in a big hurry? What if they’re judging my driving style?? What if they hate me??? Anyway. This passive driving style is precisely why I’m a terrible city driver.
So I started taking the Metro, all the time. While for some the correct conversation to have about WMATA is: “The metro sucks, it took me so-and-so minutes to get to such-and-such station! Then all these tourists were escalefting!”. Yeah, yeah…you know what? To me, the metro is world-class. In Atlanta, the subway doesn’t even go near the baseball stadium. Every DC metro stop is its own mini-city, with its own culture, style, and people.
“Hostess Factory”, photo by author
But ever since I moved to Bloomingdale, biking has been my main mode of transportation. My biking career began with me buying the cheapest bike I could find on Craigslist – a girl’s bike, no less! – and riding around the parking lot for about half an hour before I felt like I could maybe survive on the DC streets. I quickly learned that DC is littered with bike lanes, including enough to get me through 95% of my daily commute to the office. I don’t exactly have the confidence, of say, a NYC bike messenger but I get by. It’s a great feeling to find a group of bikers and ride together, owning the streets, fighting the good fight against cars.
Nowadays, I’ll bike just about anywhere in the district from Adams Morgan to Eastern Market because of the speed, convenience, and fun (well, at least when the weather’s okay and you can get to your destination without a sweat-soaked shirt or a frozen face). In the ‘burbs of Atlanta, it would take me half an hour just to get to the worst music venue**. In DC, I’m less than 15 minutes from Black Cat, Rock & Roll Hotel, DC9, Red Palace, and my favorite venue in the country – 9:30 Club. This is absolutely my favorite part about living in DC: having such easy access to the city’s huge array of culture. And I don’t even have to parallel park to enjoy it!
*I parked behind another parked car instead of reading the signs – amateur mistake. I got fined for parking in a right lane during evening rush hour.