I’m no longer 202. I’m not even 303. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I find myself, much to my surprise, living in the suburbs – in 301 to be exact.. It’s by my own doing. I mean I’m the one who left the dream job and then gave up the dream house. (Dream job = dream pay = big expensive dream house).
But I like living in the suburbs and I’m shocked at myself. I’m the one, who upon moving to Washington DC knew there was no other place to live than Adams Morgan. That was 20 years ago when I was nervous to walk by myself in certain sections, 20 years ago when I paid $600 a month to live in a two bedroom apartment, right down the street from a crack house. Today those apartments are $500K condos across from a Harris Teeter at 17th and Kalorama.
I was a 202 snob. I lived in Adams Morgan. Worked downtown/on the hill/in Adams Morgan. I had friends who moved in to Clarendon, Courthouse, Takoma, and other areas “outside of the city.” They would ask me to come over for a party, or a barbecue, or to meet them for dinner. “What area code is this in?” I would ask. You know the inevitable answer. And I’d respond “I do not go outside of 202.”
But I like it in 301. It is quiet. There is space. There are neighbors. There is no incessant humming of the city – people up at all hours, people walking their dogs, ambulances, police sirens, drunken people trying to hail a cab, or the neighbor who’s garage door sounds like nails on a chalkboard at 6:00am each morning. (And there wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t think of trying to find that garage and leaving a can of WD-40 outside his door. I mean come on, really? Doesn’t it bother you? It’s like the dentist cleaning your teeth –that high pitched whirring sound that impedes your brain no matter how high you turn up the volume on your iPod.)
I’m sitting in my bedroom, of the condo owned by a friend. I am renting a bedroom on her third floor. She’s the kind of friend that allowed me and my cat to move in with her when I resigned from my job. She's never owned a pet and hasn't had a roommate in 21 years. No questions asked, she just rearranged the room, the garage and the kitchen cupboards to accommodate my things.
I sit with my feet up on the windowsill, looking out at the rain, taking deep breaths of the freshly washed earth (admittedly I love the smell of worms after it rains – if you don’t believe me that there is a worm smell, try it). On my window sill is a single rock that says; “Believe.” That rock inspires me. Listening to the lone neighbor’s dog barking in the distance inspires me. Being able to move from the 3rd floor down to the 1st to eat breakfast inspires me.
In 202 I lived in 350 square foot efficiency – jammed up against my other neighbors. I woke up in my living room, needed only to go a few feet to the kitchen to put the kettle on for tea. I never drove my car. I walked a few blocks to the gym, to Starbucks, to the hardware store, to the grocery store, to the drugstore. Yes it was convenient physically.
But it wasn’t convenient mentally. I didn’t feel like I could ever really take a big breath … the cleansing kind…the stretch your arms over your head and fill your lungs kind of breath where you inhale all of life and think “YES!” it is morning!
In 202, I found myself holding my breath.
I moved from 303 – Denver Colorado to be exact. In 202 I paid $1100 a month for my 350 square foot efficiency in the middle of Dupont Circle. In 303 I paid $1500 a month for a four bedroom, two bathroom 2 floor house at the end of a street that was a few feet from a creek and a bike path. I used to walk outside of my house and go snowshoeing in the winter. My back yard yielded apple and plum trees, a grape arbor, and wild rhubarb. Strawberry rhubarb pies were part of summer. In 202 I can pay $4.99 a pound for rhubarb that I used to pick wild along the bike path.
In 303 my back deck over looked the mountains, my backyard bbq’s were infamous and I hosted many fundraisers because it easily fit 50 people outside of the house. On New Year’s Eve you’d find people inside the house gathered around the wood burning stove after midnight, or outside in the backyard huddled around the outdoor fire pit passing a bottle of whiskey.
I lived in cities on the East Coast for 17 years and I was a proud city girl. I loved the hustle and bustle and being among the throngs of people going to work, going somewhere. I loved listening to 5 different languages walking down the street, sidestepping the crowds, ducking into a random restaurant that I had never seen before. I thrived on that hustle and bustle. I never thought I would live anywhere else.
So I find myself living in 301, driving my car to everything. And I raise my arms over heard and take a deep breath cleansing breath and say “YES” as I look out at the rain, and I sigh with happiness.