Monday, July 12, 2010
I wonder as I wander
With six days left in DC I have to ask myself: did I make the most of it?
What does it mean to soak up a city, or place, to its maximum? Is it the number of nights you don't sleep? The weekends with so much packed in that you lie awake Sunday night, thinking of the memories you made? Is it the work you leave behind, the progress you've made? The people you've met?
Or maybe its the days you get lost, alone, discovering row houses you want to own someday, or brick alleys to stain glassed churches. Maybe it's knowing where to get the best organic cookie, or the strongest cocktail.
My months in DC were all of these things. I learned that a long commute can make your bright eyes dull. I learned that if you don't ask, you don't usually receive. And if you do ask -- persistently, patiently, politely -- you might have a chance to get your idea published in a city paper, or famous website. Or you might get turned down so many times you just shrug and go on.
I made friends on the elevator, enemies on a Metro ride, reunited with people who connect with me on levels that I didn't know possible. I felt awkward, I felt confident. I relied on my feet more than I ever have -- replacing buses, cars, trains with my own power.
Our country's capital is truly a place where passions collide. I've never heard so many arguments that evolved into dialogue and understanding. The lobbyists can be vultures, but they breathe their cause to the bone. Whether it is education, immigration, religion -- someone is DC has decided that their perspective should have a voice, an organization, and an audience.
But of course, as the inefficiency of politics pervades, so does the frustration of an economic chasm. From the homeless man in a red sports jersey who paces across Chinatown, to the pervert who followed me for three blocks talking about my assets, there is a poverty in DC that seems especially stark with the White House as a backdrop. It doesn't help that the public schools are the worst in the country, with stories of murdered teachers and teenagers too often in the headlines.
In the end, DC will always be a place of transition for me. I came here weeks after my graduation and learned to live out of one suitcase, on a shoestring budget, with a regular job.
I froze in the worst winter of 100 years, soaked up the spring that I never got in Florida, and melted through a summer so hot that I was stuck in a 110 degree train car for an hour and a half.
Next time, I'm staying for autumn.