First of all, I want to acknowledge that I’m using the term D.C broadly to include the Maryland and Northern Virginia suburbs. I don’t want any D.C purists out there to take offense, as I actually live in Alexandria City, about five or six miles outside D.C.
If you read my blog every now and then you probably know I’ve spent the better part of the last two years casually thinking about moving somewhere else. It’s not that I don’t like D.C…it’s more like I feel like I don’t really fit in. I’m not particularly career driven or professionally ambitious; I’m more about experiences and trying out new places, and I sometimes feel a little, I don’t know, out-of-place among this sea of consultants, contractors, lawyers, lobbyists and think-tankers. I’m not too particular about where I’d go. Theoretically, I’d move anywhere: Portland, MN, the Oregon Coast, western Virginia, Austin, San Antonio, Iowa…I like the idea of picking a place randomly on a map and staying there for a while before moving on to some other random place. But the problem is that D.C really sucks you in. I was born and raised in this area and crave something new, but honestly, it’s kind of a nice place. Of course, there are some cons. Traffic is a nightmare. My 16-mile work commute takes me almost an hour, and I’m supposedly going opposite of traffic. The cost of living is ridiculous. I pay more for my bedroom in a shared-with-roommate, 50-year-old mediocre apartment than I probably would for a decent one bedroom in downtown Chicago. I’m sitting at Wegman’s and just spent $7 on a coffee and egg sandwich. Sure, I could have gone to McDonald’s and spent $3, but I’m in the D.C area therefore require a nice, moderately upscale and cozy environment for blogging. If I wanted to buy my own place on my modest county salary, I’d be looking at buying a one-bedroom condo somewhere in the outer suburbs, far removed from all the action. Those ugly duplexes near my apartment? They start in the high $400,000’s.
But there are also some nice pros and perks. The job market is great. So great, in fact, that it’s hard to leave. Within two weeks of moving to the U.S, I had a job offer doing what I wanted to do. Most people you meet can place Ukraine on a map. And when I tell people my family is from Colombia, they assume I mean Colombia, South America, not Maryland, South Carolina or Missouri at least 50% of the time. The local NPR station probably gets more in monetary contributions than most churches. You have a variety of types of places to choose to live in, from typical suburbs to urban neighborhoods to semi-rural enclaves. And there’s lots to do. If I get online, I can probably find at least a few hundred softball, kickball, Ultimate Frisbee and Bocce teams meeting within five miles of my apartment. And I have at least a dozen biking and walking trails within as many miles. There are nice parks all over and if ever you’re in the mood for Korean BBQ, Sushi, Salvadoran, Ethiopian or even organic cottage cheese you likely won’t have to travel more than a few minutes to find exactly what you’re looking for. Plus, most of the museums and sites are free. So technically speaking, this is a nice place to live. I’m not sure exactly where I’m going with this post, except that maybe, when you have it all (D.C, not me), it can be hard to really convince yourself you’d be happier/better-off/more successful somewhere else. But at the same time, to me, there’s just something — I’m not exactly sure what — that’s missing in D.C, something that places like New York, New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco and even Miami have. Well-defined character? Soul? Magic? Sizzle? Edginess? Sexiness? D.C is really not a very sexy place, now that I think of it. Unless you’re into the mid-scale business casual look.
Anyone out there have any idea what D.C lacks that other cities/places have? Or is it all in my head? Is it all so familiar that I can’t see any of the magic? Is it just one of those places that’s easy for a lot of people to like but hard to really love with any sort of hardcore enthusiasm? People Love New York and Leave their hearts in San Francisco, but does that kind of unbridled city love and devotion exist in D.C? To end this post, some pictures from my D.C weekend. If you want to read more about D.C, click here. Also, please feel free to contribute your thoughts about D.C.