The Features, Why I Still Love DC

Why I (Still) Love DC: Tom

When I started writing about DC more than ten years ago now, it was a reflex. I had decided that I was going to make the best of my time here, I decided that this was a place to love, and that I should love it here. And so I went out to find all the things I loved about DC. There were many of us at that old site that wrote because this city had made a personal connection with us, that it was a part of our makeup.

As We Love DC came into being, we were doing so at the curl of the wave that was a new DC. Adrian Fenty was Mayor, everyone was talking about how DC was changing, growing, building. The Williams administration, though decidedly unsexy, had made DC a place that could receive investment again, that could build a tax base that could increase services again. DC wasn’t the inner city, DC was just the city.

The last ten years have been a major change for the city – not a change that’s been just for the good, there’s been a lot of DC history that’s been swept out past the boundary stones – and it was exciting to be here and watch it happen. Old vacant storefronts became award-winning bars. Breweries appeared for the first time in almost a century. Industry was possible in a city that was largely focused around political capital, DC has proven, and those are the things that have excited me most about the last ten years. We make things here. We make beer. We make bikes. We even make weed now. We make things. We’re not just an economy of accidental convenience, we’re an economy of industry, of confluence, of vision.

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The Features, Why I Still Love DC

Why I (Still) Love DC: Jenn

At the end of 2013, I wrote what I thought was my ultimate love letter to DC, filled with the moments that had sustained me during my struggle with a life-threatening illness. It was a thank you to the city I’d lived in for over two decades, yet I also suspected, at the time, that it might be a farewell – not because I was losing that struggle, but because I thought I was moving. Of course, I was incorrect, life being a lesson in derailment and the power of creative disruption. My DC in 2013 turned out to be the penultimate love letter, and while I spent most of 2014 investigating another city, by the end of that year I was back where I started.

So here we are. DC, you still have me. And yet, the time to leave our beloved site has come to pass. So I find myself writing another love letter, one that’s slightly bittersweet. But don’t worry. I always rally by the end.

If there’s any lesson I’ve learned over the past three years of incredible life change and regeneration, it’s this: the story never ends. You may think you have come to the end of your journey, but it’s only a chapter, or an act in a play that continues on and on. Just as cities never stop evolving, never stop rising, only to fall, and rise again. If not in actuality, then in the mind.

Maybe that’s why there are so many discarded drafts of my Why I (Still) Love DC. They litter my mind, my desk, my laptop, piling up like sediment in an archeological site. Rather as my discarded selves litter the city itself, so many experiences, haunting this corner and then the next. I feel like Scheherazade, and worry that if I ever finish the tale, I’ll lose my head.

I began to wonder if all the difficulty writing it meant that I no longer loved DC the way I used to, and frankly, yes, it’s true. But isn’t that as it should be, after so many years? Love’s not an ever-fixed mark, no matter what Shakespeare said. He knew better, anyway. Love must change – always. Otherwise, it calcifies, and your city crumbles into dust.

There’s a narrative to my love story that’s already established here in other pieces at We Love DC. I moved here for the architecture. The cherry blossoms. The subculture politicos ignore. The fact that it wasn’t New York or Boston, the other cities which courted me, but provided an escape from my New England youth. That DC was supposed to be just a way station on the way to London. That I didn’t leave, because I unexpectedly fell in love, with its music scene, with its theaters and a thriving community of artists. Bought a house, brought it back to life. That was the first act. In another act, life went haywire. My heart stopped several times. I regenerated in many ways, but haunted my old life in others. I was poised to escape, but grounded in limbo. I wasn’t as certain about my love anymore.

We’ll talk about that chapter another time, somewhere else.

I could tell you about all my other selves wandering DC. Continue reading

The Features, Why I Still Love DC

Why I (Still) Love DC: Rachel

The day-to-day existence I was living when We Love DC came into my life was one with little light. A darkness enveloped most thoughts I had at the time due to having lost my dad, dog, and two grandmothers all within the span of eight months. I had lost focus and direction. After having coffee with Jenn Larsen, one of the founding editors, I was persuaded to start writing for We Love DC. Finding my way into that world changed everything. The light was back. And I was ready for it.

Why do I still love DC? Because of what We Love DC brought to my life.

It took a few months for me to find my groove and re-establish my writing voice but coming from a place of feeling stranded, lost, and confused will do that to a person. In the Fall of 2009, We Love DC offered me an opportunity to utilize the skill sets I developed during my time studying journalism at American University.

But for me, We Love DC was never about having a byline or wearing a press pass. To me, We Love DC was a project that fostered my sense of self during a time of much needed self-discovery and mental preservation. I could write about any topic I wanted as long as I could compose a piece with passion, integrity, and facts. And the topic I was most passionate about was music.

It’s no secret that music is the love of my life. We Love DC provided me countless opportunities to not only interview national touring acts that I’ve admired or kept track of for quite some time – like Rachael Yamagata, Tony Lucca, Megan Hilty (of Smash), Kris Allen (of American Idol), and Barry Manilow. But, even better than that, We Love DC presented the opportunity to live, breathe, and document the current state of the DC independent music scene. Continue reading

Why I Still Love DC

Why I (Still) Love DC: Rebecca

I came to our fair city a fresh faced, college graduate who knew only one thing about her move down here: I definitely did not want to work in politics. Thinking back I only vaguely recall who that girl was or what she was thinking, or even what made her happy. Despite twenty odd years under my belt, I was new to the world, and pretty much had zero life experiences to learn and grow from.

It’s said that childhood and adolescence are the most formidable years of your life.
And while it’s fruitless to argue that those years aren’t important, for me my most formidable years, my 20s and early 30s, happened right here in DC. More profoundly put, I truly grew up in this city.

The last 9 years here have had their ups and downs, their failures, their simple pleasures, their soul crushing, heart breaking events, their depressive episodes when I literally had to scrap myself off the floor, their serendipitous meetings, their triumphant fist in the air celebrations and a whole hell of lot of in-betweens.

At the center of it all is DC; its people, its culture, its evolution, its bars, its opportunities, its music, its heartbeat are all at the crux of this personal growth and discovery. Continue reading

The Features, Why I Still Love DC

Why I (Still) Love DC: Fedward

When I moved to the Washington area in 1998, it wasn’t for any single good reason. I had a few reasons that added up to something, but I can’t say my logic was in any way sound. Mostly I was 27 years old and felt like I’d exhausted my opportunities in my home town. I didn’t have anything tying me down, and I figured I had enough connections here that I could make a go of it. When people asked me, I’d say that everyone else lived in DC for four years so I thought I’d give it a shot.

I had a friend who lived in a group house on the Hill, and she idly said she was thinking of moving out, but she needed a roommate. I told her I’d arrive in August, and she should find us a place to live. That first year we lived in a rented house in Crystal City, but a couple weeks after Metro’s Columbia Heights station opened up I moved into an apartment a few blocks away, where I lived for ten of those four years.

Seventeen years later, I’m a married homeowner and I have a different glib answer about why it would be impossible for me to leave: I can never live anywhere with fewer than three airports. Given the choice I’d never use any of them but National, but I’ll fly out of Dulles or BWI if the itinerary is right.

But that doesn’t really answer the question of why I (still) love DC.

When I came to DC I found a culture that didn’t revolve around the business of government. My friends aren’t lobbyists or politicians. I’ve come to know a few congressional staffers and lifetime feds over the years not because of their answer to the question “so what do you do,” but because of the things they do when they’re not on the Hill (drink, mostly). I know a few lawyers, but most of them continue to prove my belief that the happiest lawyers are former lawyers. Continue reading

Essential DC, People, The Features, Where We Live, Why I Still Love DC

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. Continue reading

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