Sunday, June 15, 2008

A thank-you of sorts

P and I have lived in the Washington, DC area for about five years now. We moved here from Boston, where we met, and where we lived as newlyweds. He was offered a job here, and I was ready for a change. Even if I had not met him, I’m sure I would have moved here sooner or later, because I traveled here for work enough that it would have made sense for me professionally. When we did move here I was very excited about it because I already had several friends here. Imagine, moving to a new place and not having to worry about making friends. And then I made new friends anyway, friends I’m lucky enough to work with, friends who are excellent colleagues, who have bought me sangria when I was down and who threw me a baby shower in my happiest time.

And then there’s the area itself. Boston it is definitely not. I do miss Boston, the history, the beauty of the city, the fact that I have traded living in a quaint neighborhood for living near a strip mall, which is just as convenient but nowhere near as charming. I miss my friends, Copley Square, afternoons spent reading out in front of the public library, the North End, burgers and martinis at The Harvest, sandwiches at Chacarero and shopping at Filene’s Basement, where I bought my wedding dress for $99. Dating and falling in love. But when I miss Boston, I miss it knowing that what I miss is the past, which I can’t have back.

What I have is this place, my present. And on the surface, to me, Washington seems to have more warts than Boston ever did. Let’s talk local politics. Or crime. Or traffic. Or schools. People usually spit out the word Washington with disdain, or disgust. You never hear the phrase inside the Beltway is never spoken in a positive context. So many neighborhoods seem generic and artificial.

And yet. I somehow can’t believe how much I love it here. I love the opportunities it’s afforded me professionally, which have been all I ever could have hoped for. I love the colleagues it’s been my privilege to work with. I love the majesty of the monuments, the fact I that my commute routinely takes me down Pennsylvania Avenue or across the Mall and I get to gaze in awe at the Capitol, which I always do. I love the museums, and the fact that so many of them are free. I love Tai Shan, who was born just before my boys were and who will always be Butterstick to me. I love the fact that my sons were born here and that we bought our first home here. I love the Washington Post much, much more than I ever loved the Boston Globe, even though I have to admit I always crack open Style before looking at the main section. (The recent imagined Clinton/Obama VP text messages? Funny.) I love that for all its (many) problems, the Metro is so damned clean, and it pissed me off anytime I see anyone eating on the train. I love that we got a National League baseball team just after we moved here, especially because it means I can go watch the Chicago Cubs play when they come to town. I love the feeling that barring anything unexpected, I plan to make this my home for the foreseeable future. And I love feeling like I’m a part of it all.

I love catching a glimpse of our local celebrities. Look! There’s James Carville at a Nats game. Look! There’s Newt Gingrich at the Pentagon. Look! There’s Sandra Day O’Connor at the Supreme Court. Look! There’s John Kerry, just a couple of blocks away from my house. Look! It’s Adrian Fenty, looking cool and chatting people up in front of a sidewalk cafĂ©.

Only once, though, have I ever been so star-struck and overcome with excitement that I had to go up to someone and ask for an autograph. It was the first time I’d done that, ever, and only because I was so excited about it in the office that my colleagues needled me and practically pushed me out into the hallway, where I walked up to Tim Russert and asked him for his autograph. I sputtered and hemmed and hawed and said something really lame in the end, and he was classy and nice and wrote P a personalized autograph for me, whereupon I turned beet-red, turned tail and ran back into the office.

What I wish I’d said was this:

Thank you. Your show will always remind me of lazy Sunday mornings when I had nothing more pressing to do than lounge around on the crappy little futon on the floor in our first apartment with my coffee and French toast and sections of the paper strewn all around the living room. Then we had twins, and there was no more TV for us on Sunday mornings, and we were at a loss until we discovered Meet the Press was rebroadcast on the radio in the afternoons, and again very late at night. Then we listened to the show over a glass of wine, not coffee. And even later, I started to download the podcast. Last week’s show is still on my iPod, unwatched.

Thank you for making me enjoy politics, for making it interesting and fun, the way my Political Science professor never did.

Thank you for being one of the best things about my new hometown.

1 comment:

Snickollet said...

Boston misses you, too.

As for the star-struck encounters, remind me to tell you about when I got to meet Yo-Yo Ma.

I was so sad to hear about Tim Russert. I had just seen him on the Today Show that week, days before he died. So sad. And so cool that you got to meet him.