There say DC is a transient city.
It’s not a place one stays forever, or for even more than a few years, they say. At a happy hour or networking event, maybe just one person in the crowd grew up in the area, likely in Alexandria or Bethsda, but most come from Pennsylvania, California, Michigan, Miami and on and on.
It’s a place one comes to after college or for a master’s degree or once returned from the Peace Corps. They come for a few years and then move on, or back.
It’s not a place people settle.
Or so they say.
When I first arrived in the city, I was often told that DC is strung out from power and people trying to get it. Connections and status were of the most valuable and it would likely be hard for me, a seemingly hippie compared to the suits and high heels of this city, to find my group. Most people I knew or had met didn’t want to stay and advised me not to either. Get the experience and then go.
The view of DC from the transplant is not a terribly great one and it’s not fair. Sure, this a politically driven place but it’s not felt all the time in all the corners. There is great culture, events and pride for this city without a state. Even with the throngs of tourists, one can reunderstand the awe and amazement of our nation’s capital.
DC was the first big city I’ve ever lived in. It was a landing place for me during a very disoriented time. Like so many, I struggled to pay rent and and drank more than I should, but I found a home.
DC allowed me to reconnect with so many wonderful people from both Peace Corps Lesotho and Niger. I was able to visit with some of my Niger stagemates and members of my sister stag and we spent long afternoons and nights telling stories about where our paths had gone after we all left that Moroccan hotel. I saw Lesotho volunteers who were able to give me advice on adjusting and I finally met in person someone who had become a huge support and dear friend over the last three years through shared loss and love of the Mountain Kingdom described in letters and book-length emails. I even ran into a high school classmate one evening in my neighborhood. And then I was blessed with amazing coworkers and roommates for new friends.
No, DC was not a place I would stay long (although I did anticipate to stay a bit longer) but that doesn’t mean I don’t have affection for it. The last six months have been very confusing and heartbreaking but it’s also been a time to dig deep for strength and learn more about myself. DC was the backdrop to all of that, even nurturing me at times.
The National Mall will always be one of my favorite places to run and I will eternally think of the vegan brownie I had at Baked & Wired. It was my first city home and anytime I meet some from DC or see it flash across the departure screen at an airport I will think, “I lived there once.”
I did and, for that, I am thankful. But it’s time to catch a plain and reclaim my residence in the Midwest. See you soon, Chi-Town.