I have of late found myself swooning. Singing the praises of my new love. Mt pleasant.
For years Mark and Brian have engaged in the city dweller game of geographic porn--the celebration and lusting after zip codes and addresses which both confer upon the possessor great cache and which satisfy a desire to live amongst a certain type of people or building, etc. Neighborhoods with impossibly nice apartments or implausibly large egos. The could rattle off neighborhoods and cross streets like the measurements of a Playmate. Both fully aware of the implications of each piece of information, able to paint with streets and sections a picture of perfect, idealized life. It never made sense to me, or at least I never had the ability to imagine that life. Maybe I'm starting to understand, maybe I'm entering the adolescence of my city dwelling life.
I liked living in the Wedge in Minneapolis, it was quirky and nice. Had some cache, some notoriety. But really I liked living in Minneapolis. I liked the city, full stop. After that it was living near Drake. I lived near a diner, but it was Des Moines. No one cared, and I abhorred it. Then on to Seattle. Lived on Capitol Hill (granted the East side). The coolest neighborhood is one of the coolest (by someone's standards) cities in America. I loved my area, but mainly because of the people. If I didn't swoon there, maybe I was swoon-proof.
Before I moved to DC I was hoping to live in Woodley Park or Adams Morgan or even, god willing, Dupont. They are wonderful areas. They represent the intersection of wealth, youth and beauty and the trappings of each of those traits are well marked in the stores, buildings and clubs that fill out and dominate the landscape. If you want to go to a great bar, bookstore or restaurant, you go there. If you want to see people who are impossibly well composed by both physical and fashion standards--those are your places. But while I am many things, I am not those. For instance, as I came to learn last night, I look like a character on the show Beauty and the Geek. It's not one of the beautiful women, I assure you. And above all else, I have little daily use for a great bar, nice club or the opportunity to parade myself in front of people expecting something better. I want a place that feels neigborhoody. There is a fairly annoying book I read called The Alchemist. The one fine take away from it is the idea that when you are on the right path the whole universe conspires to help you. I'd always liked that notion, of the world conspiring to aid you. Seems awfully involved what with the universe being everything. For instance how much help do I really need from the Horse Head Nebula. It's doing its shit, handling its business...I don't really need it worrying about my car loans. I got it, I can handle it on my own. I don't see the Nebula asking me for help turning dust into stars. But I digress.
Besides all those post-facto rationalizations the main factor in my choice of Mt Pleasant was financial. I'm paying 500 for rent here, and would be paying 900 in Dupont or Adams Morgan. So here I am in Mt. Pleasant, bank account thankfully not fully exhausted. And it is (and I realize it's only 4 days) exactly what I want in a neighborhood. It's diverse with respect to income, race, nationality and fuction (ie, churches, stores, homes, trees). Dave my roomate said he looked up the Census tract information for the area: 25% African American, 25% white, 25% hispanic, and 25% Asian, immigrant, etc. A church in the area has its Sunday services in English, Spanish, Haitian and Vietnamese.
I'm sure some of this is from walking and taking the bus, but I feel closer to the place. I feel both metaphorically and, I guess, literally closer to the place. I know, for instance, that the Bestway has a sickening sour smell to it, and vegetables that I've never seen nor could I identify. My 4 years of French do not serve me nearly as well as maybe an hour of Spanish would. Because I walk, I've wandered into a closet that pretends (and seems to be permitted to do so) that it is an antique store. It's a hodge podge of junk. And I consider junk a generous description. Because I walk, I've already begun visiting the hardware store just to talk with the folks I know there. Because I live here I have, with great pride, secured a library card.
I came back last night from an evening of hanging out with Emmet in Dupont; soccer, Beauty and the Geek (Emmet tells me I look like one of the guys, entirely possible) and dinner and I was filled with such a sense of joy to see my neighborhood. I'd just left the coolest, hippest part of DC and was thrilled at the prospect of returning to my home, to my neighborhood. Not too shabby.
All things considered, since moving to DC I've been doing a-ok. The apartment is cool in the summer and in a great location. The buses seem to arrive on my schedule. My interview on Monday was with a firm that does amazing work, and for whom I've hoped to work for months now. (Who knows if I'll get the job, but frankly I'm just happy to know that I was able to make the effort, to take the chance). Tuesday I saw old friends and shared with them a couple of beers. Last night was soccer and supper. Today, already I've reconnected with an old friend (from Wellstone) whom I've not heard from in months...turns out she's in DC as well. Tonight I'm going to a Nationals game with folks from Brookings. Tomorrow I leave for Ohio for the best frisbee tournament in the Midwest.
For the first time in a while I'm in a good place in all ways. Mentally, emotionally, geographically. And even better than being in the right place is the realization that I'm moving in the right direction. Call it a conspiracy but I think things are starting to work out.