The Art of Moving and Staying
Sometimes you have to experience the more uncomfortable and awkward times in life in order to appreciate easy breezy. Those times for me came more specifically when I lived in DC. People in South Carolina usually ask me if I’m glad I no longer live in DC, as if it is incomprehensible to not live in a place that is sunny and cheap year round. To them I usually answer, “why, yes, I love sunshine and cheap housing”. Honestly, this is the happiest I have been in a very long time. I’m not discounting the great place that SC has turned out to be. I just wanted to be able to take a second to reminisce a time in my life when I felt most alive. Usually alive also means scared for my life. Here are a couple examples:
- First week in DC: What seems like an employee (wearing a company t-shirt) hops the U-haul we just rented to “help” my Brazilian roommate and I move a couch up three flights of stairs. Says it’s part of the job. Quickly after leaving we realize this guy is NOT an employee and not only now knows where we live, but wants us to drive him to an ATM to get money. I call the U-haul employee (who I thankfully was very friendly with just moments before) and he agrees to take care of the guy if we drive back to the store. Had we not needed to drive only 2 miles back to the store I might have been a little terrified, but, looking back, I am most surprised to have gotten through the District of Columbia accident free in a U-Haul van on my very first drive through the city. Not as much about the almost getting murdered part. (SC people are dramatic)
- I routinely ran through Old Town at 10:30 at night from my townhouse on Fayette St. The scariest part was running from my doorstep 3 blocks down to King. The rest was a piece of cake. I recognized enough crazy people like myself running at that hour, plus all of the tourists, to really not give it much of a thought. Now, however, I think twice about walking my 70 lb dog at dusk around West Columbia.
- Falling asleep on the metro. Yes it happens. Yes it even happens during the week coming home from work. Narcolepsy will follow me wherever I live.
- Watching 5 black vans pull simultaneously to the curb next to my house at 4 in the afternoon on a Saturday. Sled agents appear in black from head to toe. Kick down front door. Bye-bye neighbors. Good riddance.
- Walking to a church bible study in Dupont on a normal Wednesday night. Just chatting it up with my girl friends, enjoying the weather. Look to our left to find crime scene tape and the outline of a body on the concrete. Yep, suicide. Rich guy couldn’t bare his wife’s separation (or so the cop said). Welcome to DC. Or any other major city in America.
With that being said, with the bad comes the good. I would give anything for a couple more months of good food, entertainment, and other odd comforts. Specifically:
- I miss the smell of curry in the hallway of my first garden-style apartment. I know that sounds bizarre.. but it somehow made me feel urban-chic.
- COFFEE. My budget is rejoicing at the fact that I no longer have a coffee shop to blow all of my money, but man do I miss it. Normally I would be sitting in a coffee shop writing this blog. Instead I’m on my bed, which is very comfortable, btw. Anyway, do you see a correlation between the number of years since I’ve had a wordy blog and the number of years I’ve been away from DC and good coffee shops?
- People. No matter where I went I could find a stranger-friend. Everyone was coming or going somewhere. Everyone wanted to chat (I mean, we weren’t NYC). I especially loved that no one had any real responsibility beyond his or her job or school, so life was still interesting and changing. Granted, I love the perks of the stability now, but I have to admit I was definitely never bored or lonely back then.
- Expensive, brand new furniture left out on the curb. Finder’s keepers. Now, find a truck!
- Walking home from the metro with a book in hand. I was frequently honked at and asked to be careful by strangers. But man, I got through some fun books back then. While I’m at it: walking, running and biking in general was a plus. I was even on a soccer team for a while. What I would give to be back in that kind of shape. (Yes, I know I’m just giving dumb excuses, but trust me when I tell you it was MUCH easier to stay healthy).
- Sushi. Again, refer back to the budget rejoicing thing. I spent entirely too much money back then, but at the same time I somehow lived on less than $30K a year. I don’t get it.
- Being a cool loner. I’m starting to figure out ways to be by myself and not feel awkward in Columbia. Mainly it’s MUCH easier with a huge, fluffy, dog. But certainly in DC no one looked at me strange if I showed up at a bar at 5:00 with a book with absolutely no intentions to meet anyone. Actually, I believe that’s how I met some of my better girl friends. In SC I have to space apart that kind of behavior. Specifically, I can’t go back to Henry’s by myself for at least 6 months because the bartenders are smart enough to remember the girl with the kindle. (random side note: The plus of the Kindle is that now I can read “Pride and Prejudice” in a bar and lie about it if someone asks what I’m reading. Tina Fey’s “Bossy Pants” is always in queue for such purposes.)
- Brunch. Yes, the stereotype is true. For good reason. Actually, I’m not sure there is a good reason… I just like it okay?!?!
- Impulsive happy hour with friends and co-workers when the metro is on a 2-hour delay. I realize this would be quite annoying if I had a family or a pet, but to a single gal it was just a fun excuse for 3 days in a row of happy hour without looking like the too-frequent patron.
- VISITORS. I’ll end on this note because I believe my Columbia and DC world should merge here. I had many awesome visitors the 2 years I was in DC. Some for only a day at a time, but I loved every minute of it. I mean, I know I lived in a great city and close to a major airport. I get it. I just don’t know if many of you realize that I have an entire empty room now. Remember that time you stayed on my tiny couch? I now offer you a bed, tv and a balcony. And Charleston an hour and half away. Columbia’s not that bad either. Did I mention winter didn’t actually happen this year??
So yes, I learned a lot and indulged much of my time in DC and Virginia. I’ve also learned to really love being back home. One day soon I’ll do a tribute to Columbia. For now I’ll leave you with a photo of a little night shoot my friend and I got to play around with a couple weeks ago. Once the rest are edited and ready I’ll work on that tribute (knowing me it will take several weeks, fore-warning).
Thanks to all of you who have made these places great. Thanks also to my family who has added a special touch to my life here as well.