HALLO from DC.
I am still in the process of trying to evaluate our fair capital city. The past two days have been low on downtime — yesterday I got here, moved into T.’s room, immediately went out with him to the Smithsonian event, went out for pizza afterward, came back, drank some chocolate wine (not recommended), and went to bed. This morning was breakfast followed by a trip to the Florida market — a collection of different Mexican and African and European shops with bags and barrels of wildly inexpensive produce and beans and odd little specific food items (I got eggs, oranges, and apples, which totaled ~$5 and now strikes me as almost Boxcar Childrenesquely basic). Then it was coffee, followed by a planned lunch for T., while I came back and got wrapped up mainly in an interactive guide about Pakistan put together by my department, which I feel responsible for knowing. When T. got back we took the Metro to my place of employment so I’d be less nervous about going tomorrow morning. It’s located slightly more than a block from the White House, and is more manageable than I had imagined — five stories high, not terribly wide, with a very pretty glass facade. In my head, I saw impossibly tall buildings and intimidatingly wide streets. A view of the White House is blocked by the Executive Building, but it’s just a left and then a right and you’re at Obama’s gate.
We walked on to a bookstore, then a German cafe, then finally the Metro and back toward the apartment to H Street, where we had dinner in a German “biergarten haus.” I may or may not have had a bite of some kind of wurst. We got back not too long ago.
Not a lot of time so far to, erm, meditate. I do have some initial reactions — 1), that I am relieved D.C. is not as spatially limiting as New York. T.’s apartment, which is not “cheap” but is definitely affordable for an entry-level worker, and is within the District and walking distance from the Hill, is easily as spacious as our Hyde Park apartment was. 2) D.C. is very weird, for a city. This area is covered in modest townhouses/tiny apartments, and is within a few blocks of some streets with semi-active restaurant life and shopping (comparable to a nicer version of Hyde Park’s 53rd Street). This quaint residential atmosphere continues for a while, until you suddenly realize some of the most famous buildings in the country have risen in front of you — the Supreme Court, Congress, etc. The city retains its old-school cobblestoned demeanor on the one hand, while the other side of the capital rises up into more of a typical city, with taller buildings draping giant poster ads and odd museums and chic, organic restaurants lining the block along with standard franchise fare. Figuring out where I am in the city, and what to expect, has been new and completely different from what I’m used to.
The thing I most love is the quirky, international feel of the city. Mexican markets, Italian markets, German cafes and biergartens, Ethiopian restaurants lining the block, ornate embassies, foreign ambassadors walking down the block. It may not be a big place, but things happen here, people come and go.
I’ll get a better idea tomorrow.