Why I (Still) Love DC: Ben

Full disclosure: I really wanted to title this article “Why I (Still) Love DC: Take Two (or Ten)” but Jenn wouldn’t let me. (Something about ruining the pattern or other such reasonable editorial argument.) If you’re a long-time follower of We Love DC, you’ll know I wrote a similarly titled piece back in 2013 after this site’s fifth anniversary.

And then suddenly, here we are not two years later and the party’s over.

Back in the fall, when it was discussed about putting the old gal to rest, I didn’t really want to let it go. I’d hoped that a fresh generation, newer (or older) blood would pick up our baton, and sally forth. But alas–and unlike our lovely Congressmen and Senators on the Hill–our grand lady would not blather on about nothing, limping towards digital obscurity.

And I’m okay with that.

This will be my 647th and final post here at We Love DC. (And, for giggles, that’s about half-a-million words.) I never thought I’d be saying good bye, both to our readers and to the site.

It’s a bittersweet milestone for me, particularly.

2015 marks ten years -half my married life!- since I moved to the Metro DC area. My wife and I escaped a wretched employment outlook in Pittsburgh when the International Spy Museum took a chance and hired me to help run their retail shop. Brenda Young, my manager at the time (and she’s still there, I believe), was a true District resident from Capitol Heights and during our downtime in the office, would tell me all about this city and its secrets. Actually, considering where I worked and who I rubbed shoulders with on a frequent basis, I learned about a lot of secrets in the District…

Anyway, it was during my time there that I stumbled over Tom and his merry band of Metrobloggers. I applied to write, figuring I could bring a ‘fresh-behind-the-ears’ view to the team (only having been here two years at that point). I showed my bona fides and I was in.

And plunged straight into the depths of rebellion.

Secret meetings at pubs, scurried whispers and emails. And with the determination of men and women bent onto a purpose, we unleashed this site upon all of you.

And there was much rejoicing (after a fashion).

I’ve written about a lot of things over the years, many of which have enriched me in ways I never dreamed. I got to see places I wouldn’t normally go, and talk to people that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to connect. Tried new places to eat, enjoyed exhibits on subjects I knew nothing of, and conversed about issues that are important to locals that don’t get the traditional media’s attention.

I daresay We Love DC has been instrumental to my growth as a new media writer. And, as such, to my career. I started as a retail manager – something I’d sworn years before to never again do – and found myself developing content, understanding web management, and ultimately bringing myself to the edge of a new career in content strategy. I never would have made it to this singular point without this site.

Without these people, my fellow bloggers.

Without our readers. All legion of you.

My personal and professional milestones can be traced through here. My first real photo sale came from my article on NatGeo’s exhibition of the Terra Cotta Warriors. All of my later jobs came after hiring managers read various articles here. A traditional visit to the Basin to see the blossoms every year after writing articles about it. My first non-fiction book contract came after an editor had read some of my museum exhibition pieces, and reached out to me. Being able to cover hockey as a press blogger for a bit, seeing the game from a different perspective…even that came after the Caps credentialed us for a few years.

And now…well, I can’t say that it’s over. I mean, this blog, and its active presence in the area is certainly shelved…for now. But the volume of knowledge, of experience, of culture…of LIFE that our umpteen-billion posts encapsulates? It’s not over. It’s here to stay. It’s part of our city’s fabric, our cultural landscape.

I doubt it will be forgotten.

I will miss this place. But not the experience and the camaraderie. Oh no, those I will take with me, keep with me forever. It’s a proud moment of my time here.

Oh, I’ll still be around. Online, in the city, wandering the environs with camera in hand (probably). Still visiting my favorite museums, checking out new exhibitions and eateries. Still avoiding Metro. Still arguing about what’s important to me, like changing a racist football team moniker or how much I loathe to respect the Caps. Still defending our beautiful city from the naysayers and pessimists.

But I won’t be sharing those thoughts with you anymore, at least not here. It’s time to shutter the place. It’s time for us to step out on our own, time to stop just reading about the vibrant color of our city.

It’s time to go out and explore. To immerse. To find that special something that makes this town resonate us to the very core of our being.

To be DC.

Peace.

Having lived in the DC area for ten years, Ben still loves to wander the city with his wife, shooting lots of photos and exploring all the latest exhibits and galleries. A certified hockey fanatic, he spends some time debating the Washington Capitals club with friends – but everyone knows of his three decade love affair with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A professional writer, gamer, photographer, and Lego enthusiast, Ben remains captivated by DC and doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.

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