Sunday, January 12, 2014

I'm now a Washingtonian...or am I just "from the District"

No matter what someone from DC is called, I don't think I will ever consider myself to be from here.  My hometown is the center of my universe and I will always be a Philadelphian.  The funny things is that no matter what the population of Washington DC, there are very few people who seem to be from here.  Since moving here I sometimes hear people refer to DC as "Hollywood for ugly people."  Not to say that people in DC are ugly, but more to compare the political arena here to the struggle of actors in LA.  There is this constant flow of people in and out of this city.  Whether it be foreign service officers who are constantly in and out between their other postings or just those people who are trying to get into politics or the government, jobs in DC seem to work on a revolving door system.  And that, among other reasons, is why I don't think I could stay here for the long term.

DC has a very unique way about it.  I haven't actually lived in any other city in the U.S. outside of DC and Philly, but DC just seems to function differently than any other city in this country and some of its peculiarities are for obvious reasons.  For one thing, it is not a state and it is not in a state.  I'm always a little amused at the slight bitterness that is expressed on DC license plates which all read "Taxation without representation."  This phrase seems so historic, yet here it's reality.  DC residents (or Washingtonians, if you will) are taxed (just like every other American), yet they don't have representatives in the Senate or the House of Representatives.  The full reasoning for this seemingly unconstitutional practice is something that I don't fully understand, but yet it still seems odd to me.

Another thing that seems so different to what I am used to in Philly is the driving in DC as well as the roads, laws, and manners that go along with it.  There are some streets in DC which have a different amount of lanes going in each direction depending on the time of day.  I happen to live on one of these streets and even after being here almost five months, I'm still confused as to what lane I should drive in at what time.  The reasoning behind this has to do with the rush hours in the morning and in the evening, which makes sense, however, on top of it all, at certain times on certain days, the far right lane in both directions becomes a parking lane.  And there always seems to be that one car that didn't move once parking time was over.  So you could be driving down the street and find yourself moments away from a collision with a parked car in you lane.

Another thing that I'm adjusting to when it comes to driving here is that I morally don't feel like I can do the "Philly bump" anymore.  For those of you that are not familiar, the Philly bump is a totally acceptable practice in Philly, where, while parallel parking, you tap the car in front or behind you.  Now I'm not talking about damaging the other person's car or anything like that.  In fact, you most likely won't leave even the slightest mark.  But in Philly this is more or less condoned.  Well, in DC, I've been told that you may actually be stopped by a random person on the street (not the car owner) who will ask if you are going to leave a note on the car to point out to the owner that their car has no mark on it at all from when you gently tapped it.  Let's just say I generally don't parallel park in this city.

Okay, that's enough DC bashing for one blog post.  Let's get to the good things about this city.  One thing that I truly love about DC is that most of the museums are free.  Not only are they free, but there are so many of them and they are actually worthwhile museums.  So on a lazy Saturday afternoon, I can just hop on the metro and go learn a thing or two.

Speaking of the metro, that is another bonus that DC has to offer.  I come from a town where you really only use the subway to get to baseball games and that's only if you live in a part of the city where you can get the subway.  So when you're lucky enough to be in one of these few subway accessible areas of the city, you have the privilege of riding on this train that smells of urine and usually has a homeless guy sleeping on it.  Well now that I live in DC, I live 1/2 mile from my nearest metro stop and I can take the metro pretty much anywhere.  I can even take it out to the suburbs in Virginia and Maryland.  Yes, in fact, the DC metro system crosses state/district borders.  And guess what else!  It is one of the cleanest subway systems I've ever seen.  No urine smell here.  So, yes, my driving mode of transportation may have been downgraded by moving, but my public transport system got infinitely better.

Anyway, now that I feel like this post is already too long (and I can't come up with anymore really good things to say about DC at the moment), I'm going to end it here.  I've been here five months so far and DC is growing on me slowly slowly, however, I will always be comparing it to Philly and I don't think it will ever live up to it (at least not for me).  So I guess you can call me a Philadelphian from the District.

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