I came to DC on a whim, an instantaneous attraction. Initially the classicist in me was drawn to the cool solemnity of the federal architecture, the romantic to the cherry blossoms. But the pragmatist could see the long-term benefits, and so here I am, after nineteen crazy years.
(Or perhaps it’s because the procrastinator can’t make up her mind where to live next… Paris… Buenos Aires… Antwerp…)
I grew up thirty minutes outside what many people consider to be “THE City” – New York, naturally – but when it came time to go to college there, I balked at it, even though it was the pragmatic choice for a drama student. I also resisted the lure of that other Nor’eastern city, Boston, the classical choice for a chowda-oysta-slurping Yankee.
No, somehow I was seduced by the balmy breezes (what a shock, that first 100-degree day in September!), the courtly charm (what a surprise, that first night in the dorm, gunshots across the Metro tracks!), and the decorous beauty (oh, those baby rats hungrily gnawing in the alley outside my first solo apartment!) of our Capital City.
Sarcasm aside, I do love DC with all my heart. The vibrancy of life here is something I cherish – the way the city opens up on those first few perfect spring days when everyone is eating outside and lounging on patios and my neighborhood comes alive with “good morning, good morning!” This city can give you both provincial and cosmopolitan experiences alike, and you can spend your entire day never seeing a tourist or a monument, if you so choose.
This is also the city all my many guardrails were forcibly stripped away, preconceived notions shattered, and I truly became who I am. So many of the places where this metamorphosis occurred are gone or are utterly changed. I can wander through the city and be struck suddenly by the craziness of it – a high-end cheese shop now on the same block where once I madly bargained with a cab driver to take my broke clubkid self home, while an insane homeless man sang to me… Logan Circle filled with dogs and their relaxed owners where once there were junkies and the grand mansions were battered crackhouses… friends who refused to cross 14th Street now vying for condos…
But nostalgia can trap you. Is it better or worse now? It’s different, that’s all. And I’m looking forward to exploring it all with you.
Wow, 19 years?! I think you’ve lived here longer than anyone I know. I’ve only been here since ’03, but it’s amazing to see how rapidly the city is changing (although some things will always stay the same).
My father-in-law purchased a 1 BR condo in Logan back in the late 80s. Back then, of course, you could get somethign like that for literally next-to-nothing, because Logan was a drug riddled hellhole back then. For some reason, he decided to hang onto it after moving out in the early 90s, and boy has that decision paid off for him. He says he doesn’t even recognize Logan today.
Great story, BTW.
It’s not just the city that has changed. The ‘burbs have changed just as much: they’re much bigger, richer, & more ethnically diverse. To some extent, I think that has had a positive spin-off effect on the city.
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Not only do I agree with you re: the change, I’m just as excited as you are to welcome the change. Comming from North Carolina to DC “back in the day” I could’nt see the potential growth of DC. It was run down, but clean and I excepted that and went on to make something of myself. I love DC…………..and I’m so grateful for the exposure.