Monday, September 24, 2012

Ermahgerd!! Erm Ern Wershingtern!! (Unexpected Subtitle: Brace Yourselves. Sassyfats Gets Thoughtful for a Moment)

I couldn't resist
Today I began my new assignment in D.C. The location I'm in is the very one I left to work in the 'burbs 11 years ago. People have asked me why I've chosen to work so far away from my little house on the not-quite-Bayfront. Well, it's simple:

  • A paycheck is a wonderful thing. I followed the money. 
  • My new boss is an old work friend. But she's been in a higher position than me since we met, so it's not weird that she's my boss now.
  • I lurve, lurve, LURVE being in the city.
  • I lurve, lurve, LURVE living in my lil' beach town out past the farms.
All in all, the commute really isn't so bad. I park my car in a Park & Ride lot next to some grain silos. Then I board a nice, clean, free-of-overtly-crazy-people commuter bus. One on which the bus driver says, "Mornin' Ma'am!" which just makes me want to sing like I'm on Sesame Street. Then I just sit back and let the driver fight all the traffic. My commute time is a little longer, but it's not as stressful as when I was driving Beltway rush-hour traffic myself at the old place.

The ride from the grain silos to the heart of Our Nation's Capital is like lumbering through a wormhole that lets out on a different planet. From the resort town I call home, through the farmland, through residential areas that get increasingly urban, all the way to Downtown. Giddy as I was during this morning's ride, I couldn't help but notice how the homes shrink in proportion to the average income of the residents who live there. It's like you have to go through an economic desert before you can reach the thriving capital of the most powerful nation on the planet.

You know you've crossed the D.C. line when you see the small brick duplexes of Southeast. People who live around here know that Southeast is the part of the city you want to avoid, because that's the quadrant that you hear about on the 11:00 news most often when they do the daily body count. But during the morning rush hour, you don't see gangstas loitering outside the multitude of liquor stores you pass - instead you see young children who are on their way to school. Too often for my comfort level, you see them walking without any obvious adult chaperone. As a suburban Mom who lives on a quiet street that ends in a cul-de-sac, I can't fathom sending my elementary-school aged kids several blocks down an inner city street without a responsible adult holding their little hands in a solid death grip, poised to protect them from stray bullets and creepy people with every step. I guess you have to be less paranoid than moi when you call the inner city your home.
She'd make a great nanny
Once you get past the residential area, you come to the part of the city that most people that aren't from around here associate with D.C.: Capitol Hill. There are no children on the sidewalks here. Instead you see smartly dressed Hill staffers who walk swiftly and with great purpose, frantically texting along the way. In stark contrast to the mean streets of Southeast - did I mention the plethora of liquor stores? - this area is oozing with wealth and power. There are many Busy People doing Important Things here, and they are hard to miss.

Despite the chronic congressional deadlock you hear about on the news channel of your choice, the Capitol Building radiates energy and vitality. Political affiliation aside, this is the seat of the United States government. This is the building that houses the very government our forefathers fought to establish. This is the building that houses the very government our armed forces still fight to protect. Even when you are sick to death of all the partisan bickering and election-year mudslinging, it's hard to deny what this building represents. Democracy. Freedom. Patriotism. Our history. Our future. When you think about how much blood has been shed to ensure that building stays in business, it's downright awe-inspiring.
Cue the anthem
But then you get past Capitol Hill and see the touristy part of the city. I don't know about you, but I get a big ol' nostalgic grin recalling my various trips to the museums and monuments there growing up. As a child I took my proximity to the Mall for granted. Now I wish I had more time to go hang out there. But I can't today, because my bus is taking me past all the touristy stuff to my final destination - MACY'S!! Four (or is it 5?) marvelous floors chocked full of cool stuff I can't afford to buy. But that's OK - I like the vibe in this part of the city, so window shopping is good enough for me.

It's been awhile since I've walked these streets, but I did remember to use my I-belong-here-so-don't-mug-me stride of confidence: shoulders squared, head up, and eyes forward.

Like this, only meatier
But on the inside, I was totally having a Mary Tyler Moore moment. The ride home wasn't as awe-inspiring because I was just a bit exhausted from all my first-day activities - and speed-walking to the right bus stop two blocks away from the bus stop where I stood in vain for 20 minutes. Oh well. A perfect day is a bit much to ask for. But a fabulous first day? Totally got one.
I'm gonna make it after all

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic Christie! You are so talented! I love reading your work!! :)


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