Thursday, June 3, 2010

We made it!

After seven action-packed days on the road, skipping over the country like a stone, we finally made it safe and sound to the California coast! (Oh Pacific Ocean, how I've missed you so.) This roadtrip has been three years in the making and though it only lasted seven days (I voted to spend one month on the road; J voted one week because of this silly little test called the Bar or something he has to study for) it was symbolic for us not only as a couple starting the next chapter of our lives, but as an adventure back to our roots.

Right now we're staying with my grandmother in the Bay Area while we look for an apartment on the Peninsula just south of San Francisco. (Confession: it would be amazing to live just up the street from Steve Jobs in Palo Alto and "accidentally" run into him in line at Starbucks one morning. We'd chat about stolen iPhone prototypes, Steve "The Woz" Wozniak, and what happened on last night's Grey's Anatomy, though methinks he's probably more of a Private Practice watcher. Clearly we'd be BFFs. Clearly.). Suffice to say J and I are now living out of three of our boxes as we look for a pad of our own, and though it may seem like we are in flux with jobs and housing and all those other delights...we're happy. We're home. The air smells different here. Familiar. People are nicer. Happier. I can go out at night and not have to worry about being mugged or shot. It is not muggy or cold. It just "is". Life is good.

I'll be posting a roadtrip recap and pics soon, but in the meantime here's an open letter I wrote to DC the day I left the District region:

Dear Washington DC,

In the inimitable words of John F. Kennedy, you were once described as "a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm". As a resident for 3.5 years, I can say that this is 94% true.

For being the hub of all things political for our great land, your lack of efficiency is embarrassing. Traffic patterns, time spent waiting in lines, terrible customer service across the board, the list goes on and on. When you can't figure out that white, reflective paint should be used to connote freeway lanes, something is seriously wrong. And please don't get me started about the "mixing bowl" or whatever it's called, that tangle of odds and ends of freeways and parkways and streets that all snarl together right around the Pentagon. But okay, so what you lack in proper city planning can be made up in your jobs, right? According to...well...everyone who's much more rosier about things than me, you held your own in unemployment rates while the rest of the country plummeted during that whole recession thing. All right -- maybe California is still licking its wounds when it comes to its battered employment rate, but all your jobs exist mostly because of one thing: The federal government. Which is cool, if one is into that. Working for The Man is a venerable career path, but it's not for everyone...especially one fellow blogger, who recently summed you up "as a company town for the worst company on Earth – the federal government of the United States of America."

Hmm what else am I happy to leave behind. Ah yes, the weather, the hideous income disparity within your district lines, and your general population who tends to be in a permanently foul and overly aggressive mood. At times some of these people can also be terribly pretentious (so much so, in fact, that after living here for 3 years I will never, ever again wave off LA as being so full of BS. Au contraire, LA seems like paradise now.) Sure I've found some great people and good friends here, but in general it's been a disappointment. Maybe I'm a little too mellow yellow for you, but I can't help but think that a lot of people dwelling within and outside of your beltway would lead happier lives if they just chilled out. Not everything has to be 1.) a battle, 2.) about what college you went to (bonus points, it seems, for Ivy League and anything UVA-related), or 3.) what you do for a living. Maybe if there was more common courtesy practiced between your inhabitants you'd make a more pleasant place to live. (When I heard an impatient guy at Macy's call the cashier an "asshole" out loud because he wouldn't stop ringing people up and help him RIGHT AWAY on the floor I knew I'd just about had it with your lovely, charming residents.)

You're a strange city -- a city without the feel of being a city. You just...exist. So unlike other big cities like Manhattan, Chicago, et. al. A big city without big city benefits, some have said. There's no awe, or wonder, or spectacle. Aside from the obvious obligatory phallic jokes that are made daily about your national monument by tourists and residents're just there. A muggy anomaly built atop swamp land with a terrifying crime rate, some of the worst traffic jams in the U.S., and a freeway randomly named after Martha Custis.

It's been real, but now it's time to blow this taco stand and start the next chapter of my fabulous life.

Peace out, DC.

(Ed. Update:
Apparently I'm the most popular outgoing link on DC Blogs today. Just a reminder to new readers: This open letter is merely my opinion of the overall experience I had in the DC Metro area. Of course I had good times in the city as well, but for me the weather, lack of common courtesy and other daily realities tended to outweigh the good. Again, my opinion.)


Mandy said...

Yay - you're home! Congrats! I've been wondering about you and your roadie adventures.... can't wait to see pics and hear more details!

I loved your letter to D.C. and it makes me very glad that I didn't end up there. I have a friend who's lived there (moved there from Louisiana which although a sinkhole has tons of charm and nice people) nearly a decade and she hates it and wants to move away. I guess it's a city that most folks love to VISIT but that don't want to LIVE there.

Cheers to you and J for getting the hell out of there and starting this exciting new chapter in your lives! I know it's going to be a page turner!

Anonymous said...

So glad you two made it safe and sound! Good luck finding your own place!

Also, the letter part freaked me out a bit. I mean, I've been to DC twice and it was a nice enough place to visit. But it's on the short-list of places my husband thinks he'd like to work, and I already just about died every time he mentions it. Consider me dead and buried now!

paisley penguin said...

Welcome back to the left coast!!!

CameronPoe2409 said...

Wow, your letter to DC is quite an eye-opener! Glad you are having a new start in fabulous San Fran! I'm so jealous, I've visited there twice and think it is just such an amazing place.

Amanda said...

Yayyy!! I'm glad you guys made it home safely! I'm sad we never got to meet each other in DC but perhaps you'll come to visit or I'll end up visiting CA someday. I'm glad you are back home and I hope you keep blogging. I can't wait to see how your new life works out! xoxo

Alex said...

Somehow you made it through 3.5 years in DC without ever really getting to know our city beyond a series of cliches! It's a bit like someone coming to San Francisco and instead of seeing the beauty, only noticing the fog, the tourists, the homeless, and the urine-soaked sidewalks. I'm glad that you're happy now, but I'm also sad that you completely missed out on a great place to live.

AM said...

As an L.A. native now living in this hole of a city, you are my hero for writing this letter. You pretty much summed up everything I've been thinking since I moved here a few years ago. I'm getting out soon, thank god, and will probably not miss this place.

Hope you have a great new life in Cali.

Maritza said...

Welcome back to the Bay area! =) You chose a great time to return since it's felt like Oregon until recently. Very glad you have returned home and no longer have to deal with the crap of DC. Your sincere goodbye was a perfect "Dear John" letter for the city you had to call home for a while. Now it's time for bigger and better things! It's always great to experience something different, but there's no place like CA!

Dana said...

I grew up in the suburbs just outside DC, lived in Dupont and Adams Morgan for a few years, made homes in other countries and states, then found my way back to a neighborhood just over the Potomac a few years ago.
I agree the traffic on the Beltway is maddening. Most people are obsessed with their careers, drive aggressively and think they're not living if they're not rushing somewhere else.
I agree there is breathtaking, soul-crushing rudeness here too.
But I don't agree - at all - that this city lacks awe. I've grown up with the monuments and museums but their grandeur, for me, never fades. Ever. The history is overwhelming. The power is humbling. I think this is a gorgeous city, especially at night.
I also think there are strong communities of character, diversity and charm scattered throughout the city and its surroundings. Places where people stop to talk to one another, tell stories, share coffee, garden, walk their dogs, watch their children grow, enjoy ice cream cones on the corner. I'm sorry you didn't see that side of the city.
Best of luck in your new adventures.

Andi said...

Glad you made it safe!! Good luck hunting for a new place!

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you said. Most of it. I just felt compelled to tell you that you are an objectively bad writer.

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