On being back in D.C.

I’ve spent the last two weeks or so at my parents’ home in D.C. It’s kind of strange to live in your childhood home again. There are so many years of emotions and memories all wrapped up together in a fairly small square footage. Every now and then I’ll start to feel really weird and not know why, and then I’ll realize, “Oh, this is how I felt when I was fifteen years old.”

I’ve found an apartment in Baltimore and I should be moving out there sometime in early August. I’m almost sorry to be leaving D.C. The place is something of a mecca for twentysomethings, and I know a fair number of people in town. Baltimore is only an hour away, but an hour can be a fairly big impediment to seeing people.

However, there is a part of me that’s glad to be leaving. There’s something frenetic and pitiless about post-grad life in D.C. When you’re a young person in D.C., it is hard to live a graceful life. The housing market is insane, which means that you’re always paying too much for tiny apartments in dangerous neighborhoods. And the internal transportation system is a mess, whether you drive or take the Metro, it always takes too long to get anywhere. And the streets, restaurants, and bars are too crowded, you’re always brushing up against people or trying not to brush up against them. In that, D.C. is much like San Francisco.

But D.C. also has the added complication of the two year stint. There are people who go to the Bay Area and stay in the Bay Area. But most of D.C.’s twentysomethings will leave within two or three years of arriving. It makes it difficult for them to know how much time to put into cultivating personal relationships.

Politics are also an omnipresent force in D.C. (like the entertainment industry in L.A. or the tech industry in S.F.). But unlike those other two industries, politics is not fundamentally frivolous. How heated can you really get about entertainment or about technology? Politics is not like that. Politics is very important. And it can sometimes be very uncomfortable to live in a city where politics form the crux of most conversations. You either end up discussing politics in a banal or cynical way, or you get into arguments.

So it will be nice to have a little bit of distance from D.C. (and it will be really, really nice to be living just half a mile from Johns Hopkins’ English Department…god, I hate commuting). Baltimore seems a bit quieter and more manageable.