When I was asked to write this piece, my first thought was “well this could be a long article or this could be very short.” If I listed everything I love about my hometown, I’d have a multi-post series; or I could sum it up with a simple “everything.” But neither would do. So I sat down and started thinking. When is it that I say “I love this city” and mean it? I started to realize that I say that almost every time someone says “I hate this city because.” Sounds wrong right? Normally when people start complaining, everyone piles on. Not me…well, not always me.
For example: Metro sucks? It’s hard for me to hold that view when I still remember my first trip when I was two or three. Every time I’m in the tunnels, seeing the lights zoom by, I remember that ride. And my two-year-old thought comes back to me: I’m on a spaceship flying at warp speed. Or when you look up at those massive station vaults, and get lost in the repeating pattern of concrete blocks; how can a delayed train or a broken escalator be seen as anything more than a small annoyance?
Want people to know the “real DC”? Maybe you could start by not dismissing the monuments; they’re as much DC as the Coliseum is to Rome or Big Ben is to London. What if I told you one of my favorite childhood memories happened on the Mall? It wasn’t a parade; it wasn’t a festival. It was when my kindergarten class got to go to the Natural History Museum and my class got to play on Uncle Beasley. Then there’s the fact of living a mere thirty minutes away from the original Starship Enterprise, a Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece, and Kermit the Frog? The not-real DC sounds like a good place to me.
Speaking of the real DC, it’s hard to realize exactly how much the city has changed in my life time. Neighborhoods I would never drive through while growing up (Columbia Heights, H Street) I now walk to; and new places not only come out of nowhere, but rise from nothing (NoMa, though I prefer Swampoodle). NoMa in particular is interesting, because I still expect to see barren city wasteland when I go through it, and the surprise of seeing gleaming new buildings is still fresh. As much as the city has changed in my 30+ years, try my parent’s 40+ years here; things I’m starting to take for granted, they are fascinated by. For instance, they’re still shocked that street cars are coming back to DC. It makes me ever more excited for what the future brings; and I hope to help make that future better.
And then there are the little memories. How about the ’87 football season, where, not only did the Redskins win the Super Bowl that year with a “Touch of Class,” but my dad took my brother and me (ages 9 and 7) to RFK to get scalped tickets for the game against the Lions. And we got to hear one of the loudest games, ever, at RFK. Or how about seeing the Statue of Freedom lifted onto the Capitol Dome after six months of restoration in 1993. Then there are the special, little things like that double-decker McDonalds on New York Avenue. It has a special place in my heart because of early morning breakfasts after all night Children’s Hospital ER visits due to asthma attacks. And, of course, there’re the Inaugurations. I’ve seen George H.W. Bush’s, both of Clinton’s, and now Obama’s (I missed W’s first because of college, and his second because I didn’t have a job…which I blamed on W :O).
When it comes down to it, I love this city. I feel steeped in the city’s history; truly invested. When I think of what a city should be, I think of DC. I can’t think of living anywhere else. My normal refrain is: I was born here, I’ve grown up here, and, God willing, I’ll die here (preferably at the ripe old age of 130). Who could ask for more?