It’s hard to believe, but I left D.C. 10 years ago.
And it’s hard to type that sentence.
I’m being quite literal when I say that I “grew up” in D.C. What began as a gelatinous blob of a person became a confident, refined young woman. D.C., in many ways, gave me my flavor.
I fell in love with walking, row houses, carry-outs and cherry blossoms. I thought I could live the rest of my life without a car and every night with the hum of sirens.
And I never meant to leave.
Well, I meant to leave. Briefly. There was a three year plan. And that three year plan is still hanging out somewhere in 2003.
Now, to be honest, I thought I had done pretty well dealing with the demise of my 3 year plan. I gave myself a two part pep talk: a) big girls don’t cry and b) the fun is where I am. Before too long, I was falling in love with my hometown and finding myself in all kinds of circles meeting all kinds of people and living a life much richer than I thought possible.
In fact, let me take this moment to be very clear. I love Columbus. The city has grown on me like hair on your Aunt Mable’s upper lip. It’s vibrant, it’s growing, and yet still so Midwestern. Food, arts, nature — it’s all here. The only boring days are the ones we choose.
But it’s not D.C.
And I still wanted to be in D.C.
Now, I didn’t realize that last line until about a week ago. And it happened in the strangest way.
Wife and I have been house hunting. The three rules of buying property? Location, location, location. And I wanted to live in the city: stately turn of the century homes in urban neighborhoods just minutes away from all of the things we love most. Suburbs? Schmuburbs. I wouldn’t be caught dead outside the outerbelt. Work where you live and live where you play, that was my motto.
And then reality came along. This house wasn’t just for me. It was for my family. And my family needed a backyard, excellent schools, and multiple bathrooms. (Ever shared a bathroom with a little boy? Don’t, just don’t.) Tiny little details that the city homes I loved so much were missing. Tiny little details that I was more than willing to forgo so that we could stay in our urban oasis. Tiny little details that… our family would be miserable without.
So why was I feeling like I would be miserable if we did have those things?
Because I was still living in D.C. In my mind, I had carved out my own little 14th St., just a short jaunt to Adams Morgan and metro ride to Georgetown. Steep staircases and inefficient kitchens kept me firmly footed on P St. Where I belonged. Where I yearned to be. As long as I was downtown, I could convince myself that I hadn’t really left Chocolate City. And that pang of guilt I felt, like I was betraying an old friend, every time Reynoldsburg or Upper Arlington entered the discussion? It was the guilt of leaving behind my friends who are so much more like family and my college town that was so much more like home.
So there it is. As great as Columbus is, it will never replace D.C. And I miss D.C.
And that’s ok. But missing D.C. can’t define me. It can’t define my family or the way that we live. It’s been 10 years, and it’s time to say goodbye.
So we all know how this will end. Wife and I will move to the burbs, adding more Wonder Pets and munchkins to our clan. We’ll mow grass and host barbecues. And I’ll start working on a recipe for mumbo sauce.
What? You didn’t really expect me to give up mumbo sauce, did you?