I came to Washington, D.C. eight years ago. I had finished grad school in New York, and D.C. was not on the map until I met my boyfriend, who had found a job here. I was less than thrilled: My hope had been to settle in New York, and work for the United Nations. I called myself a Manhattanite: I adored The City, and I couldn’t imagine leaving it. “One month, tops.” I said to my boyfriend when he pitched moving in together in D.C. As Manhattan’s skyline disappeared in the side-view mirror of the U-Haul, I cried: Goodbye, fabulous New York.
Right away, D.C. and I got off on the wrong foot. I loathed being here: There were no skyscrapers blocking the sky, few good restaurants, no stores open past 8 p.m., the streets were too wide, no cabs… It was too hot and it had neither the gritty feel nor vibe of a big city. I wasn’t interested in the monuments, the history, the sights. I hated the tourists. To sum it up, D.C.’s worst offense simply was: it wasn’t New York. My personal situation wasn’t the greatest either: despite being in a lovely relationship, I was also job-hunting and working as an unpaid intern – the plight (rite of passage?) of a freshly-graduated development worker.
Looking back on the past eight years, I can’t help but acknowledge that D.C. has been a town of milestones for me. I got my first job here. I married, had my children. I learned how to drive. I re-discovered writing as my passion. I stood on the Mall with millions of others when Obama was elected. I survived the Snowmageddon (actually any snowstorm in D.C., come to think of it…) and the earthquake. I jogged along the Potomac and the C&O Canal, hiked the Billy Goat Trail and Old Rag, biked to Mount Vernon and through Rock Creek Park. I walked around the Tidal Basin during the cherry blossoms. Life moved on and little by little, things got better. Well, I still don’t care much about the monuments, but… I did come to like it here.
D.C. and I both changed. We found a balance we could live with and get along. I mellowed out and grew to appreciate the green spaces, the art museums, the walking around. D.C. got more hip, with new cuisines, markets, haunts and shops. A bunch of neighborhoods got makeovers and became fun to explore. Beau Willimon created “House of Cards.” I will always have a tough time with the humidity, the heat, the ho-hum downtown, and the city doesn’t quite feel like my town, but… it’s not so bad anymore.
Moving is a funny thing. Kind of like expecting a baby; you don’t know how you will feel once it happens. You can only anticipate and hope it will all be okay. I’m leaving in a couple of weeks, and as the song says, “I don’t know when I’ll be back again.” Years ago, I would have thrown my hands up in glee. But yesterday night, I stood on my doorstep breathing in the rainy air and I thought – well, this feels good. Really good.
Thanks, D.C. It’s been real.
**Title credit to The Postal Service