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Washington, D.C. May 16, 2016

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Taxation without representation
—standard issue DC license plate

Bitch set me up.
—Marion Barry

For me, there are two Marylands: growing-up Maryland and adult-now (D.C.) Maryland, which I will discuss later, under a false heading.
—Indigo Bunting

I moved to D.C. in the spring of 1986. I had been working for a guy named Paul, and his wife Rosemary knew this guy Curtis who knew this woman Rosalind who had just bought a house and was looking for roommates. I moved in with her. Tim was doing an internship, and when that was over, he moved in with us, and Rosalind’s friend Carol hired Tim at the job he worked the entire time we lived in D.C.

We lived in that house, in D.C. proper, for about a year, with Rosalind a few others. Our wedding was in the fall. We stayed in the group house til the next spring, when it was time to get some space.

Sadly, that meant moving out of the district for something affordable.

We always manage to find ghettos. Pleasant ghettos, overall, ghettos that are on the edge of the nice but are not the nice. We moved to Takoma Park, Maryland, which is nice, but we lived next to project apartments and there were lots of drugs about and some domestic violence and there was a lovely neighborhood three blocks away of actual houses, but we could not afford an actual house.

Growing up, D.C. was twice as far away as Baltimore, and yet somehow I spent almost no time in Baltimore and a lot of time in D.C. Maybe it was the museums. Maybe it was my sister’s ballet years. It just felt like my city, and after college, it seemed like the natural place to go.

Despite its reputation, D.C. is a great town. It’s not New York, of course. It’s not like anywhere, really. Maybe ultimately it is all about politics, but it doesn’t feel that way to me. I worked mostly in medical associations, nonprofits that were technically not allowed to lobby (but could certainly educate). As with any city, there are many worlds.

It was a struggle. But being in your twenties and thirties and living solely on earned income is a struggle anywhere.

I made some great, great friends, most of whom have also left the area. D.C. is a transient town.

For years I worked close enough to the tidal basin that during the fleeting cherry blossom season, I could leave the office, walk entirely around the basin, and get back to my desk having only stolen 10 extra minutes for lunch. It was magical.

I could eat Thai food and Indian food and Afghani food and Ethiopian food and Italian food and Cuban/Italian food (well, that one restaurant) and Jamaican food and soul food and Mexican food and when the doctors were in town I could eat at the fanciest restaurants on the company’s dime.

I could contradance two nights a week at the Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo.

I could bike on great trails through parks. I could go birding on the C&O Canal and on up to Great Falls.

I could take subways and walk everywhere.

But it’s hard to not have money in a city or its immediate suburbs. Each year, heading back from our week at Northbrook, we’d get more and more tense as we approached home. And more and more depressed. We wanted out. We wanted to move north. We eventually made it.

Been there?: Yes



1. Mali - May 30, 2016

Fascinating! I’ve been to DC maybe ten times for work. I love it. I’ve often said I’d like the opportunity to live and work there for a year or so. It was possible once. Not likely to happen now though.

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