Wednesday, June 23, 2010


For the last 10 years, I've had to make the case for D.C. to both myself and to people I love. This site is not about making a case for D.C., though. It's about those of us who know we want to be here.

Right now I'm on my second attempt at putting down roots in Washington. Both times living here, I've ended up in relationships where the other person wanted to be living somewhere else.

I'll admit that D.C. might be a tough sell to someone who isn't from around here and is living in New York or San Francisco, the two cities it's gone head-to-head with in my relationships. For awhile, I wasn't sure I wanted to stay here either, after growing up in Potomac, Md. I spent college in St. Louis, Philadelphia and London. Then moved to New York after graduating.

I was in my early 30s and on my seventh (nonconsecutive) year of living in N.Y.C. when I began to seriously contemplate living in D.C. for the first time. This seemed like a big deal, at the time. Why would I ditch living in super-cool New York to head back to the place where I grew up? I was a writer and editor working in digital media. The market for that was much bigger in New York. All of my friends were in New York. Was I crazy to leave?

Maybe, but I felt stuck. And D.C. just felt better -- it felt less claustrophobic, more like home. I got an apartment in Dupont Circle just across the street from Visions theater and cafe (RIP). I was thrilled to live in a city but be able to have a car and open spaces. I loved going out to the 9:30 Club, Black Cat, ESL and other places but then being able to escape to the 'burbs, or to Great Falls, or to the Delmarva beaches, or to bike in Northern Virginia.

Then I met someone going to grad school in D.C. who hailed from Northern California.

Like many transplants to D.C. from other big cities, he was unhappy. It was so humid/freezing here, so full of lame food, so lacking in services and style. He loved me, but he didn't love D.C. He left for San Francisco. He asked me to join him, and I did excitedly, even though part of me felt as though I'd just gotten acquainted with D.C. and the last thing I wanted to do was leave.

I lived in San Francisco for three years. I experienced ethereal food and beautiful scenes, a lot of love and a lot of heartbreak. I missed D.C. desperately, much more than I expected to.

Now I live in Washington again. Like last time, I live in Dupont Circle. Unlike last time, I know where I want to be for good.

Is it wrong to put a city ahead of everything else? Ahead of love and career? My boyfriend lives in New York, and I would probably have better job prospects as a writer and sometime event planner in other cities. But D.C. is where I want to be. Why?

I could say it's because you can drive your car down Massachusetts Ave. with the breeze in your hair, embassies from all over the world whizzing by, and WHUR's Quiet Storm on the radio, but I'm not sure that really seals the deal for anyone but me. I could also say that there's a sort of perverse benefit you get from NOT being inundated by superlative and/or severely hyped experiences every day, as you might be in New York City or San Francisco, so that when you do discover a really good restaurant or a great little local store, you appreciate it that much more. Yeah, I know. Not that compelling.

Because of rooftop bars and sidewalk cafes. Because of Dupont Circle. Because of the White House. Because of the 9:30 Club, D.C. radio and go-go. Because of the Potomac River, Georgetown and the C&O Canal. Because of lightning bugs and thunderstorms and snowpocalypses. Because of U St. and Adams Morgan. Because of people who come here to make a difference. Because of my family and friends and Montgomery Mall (ok, that's in the 'burbs -- so is Great Falls and Eden Center). Because of wide avenues named after states and maddening traffic circles. Because of Amtrak Northeast Corridor. Because of those orange seats on the Metro. Because of all the reliable chain businesses and all the ones that aren't big chains (the great yoga studio down the street, the wonderful gelato places...).

So I'm back with D.C. now, hopefully for good. This blog's mission is to give you useful information about living and/or visiting. Maybe you will fall for it too, or maybe you already have and can share your discoveries with me.