I don't care what anyone says but I love this city. D.C. is full of people who challenge me to think differently and inspire me to be a better person.
I can't help but smile when I walk past the Washington Monument at sunset or bike along the cherry blossoms in spring. For such a small city, I'm constantly stumbling upon new coffee shops hidden in alleyways near Convention Center, a new farmer's market in Bloomingdale or a stealthy bike path along the Red Line. I still remember biting into mac n' cheese that tasted so damn good it made me scream Oohhs and Aahs. I still remember dancing for hours at the Malcom X drum circle sans ecstasy. I can still vividly see the yellow and orange and oh-my-god-is-that-purple sky as the sun rose above the tree lines of a post-Burner party in The Middle of Nowhere Silver Spring Maryland. This is the city where intimately sharing a beer with your favorite musician at DC9 is possible.
When I lived in NE D.C., 300 of our neighbors gathered at the annual Stronghold Fourth of July block party. The community collects thousands of dollars to buy fireworks, rent a speaker system and grab the supplies for an epic BBQ. The streets are sealed off by parked cars, providing enough space for a 10-by-10 square of D.C. residents -- young and old, transplant and natives -- to dance the Wobble.
My favorite memories here are the simple ones: riding on the handlebars of my best friend's bike, catching the game-winning kickball, lying under the trees of Rock Creek Park with my roommate, freestyle rapping at a pizza joint in Shaw, attempting stand-up comedy at a bar on Georgia Avenue and using my first Potomac Dollar at Qualia Coffee in Petworth. Even the seemingly mundane routines are special: handing my AmEx to the food truck cashier, staring at the reflection of Nationals Park on the Anacostia River from the top of Morris Road SE, or closing out the bars at 3 a.m. when I told everyone that I would only do happy hour.
The best thing about this city though is that I am constantly surrounded by smart and passionate people who are changing the world.
Yet, this city has its challenges. It's expensive, parts of it are completely gentrified and a large group of its residents are transient. There are people living here who really care about these problems though, and they are doing their best to build a better place for all of us. For the ones who were here since the beginning, and the ones who were lucky enough to join in all along the way. D.C. is often described as disconnected, but open yourself up and you'll find the city's interdependent heartbeat.
Three years ago, I hopped onto a U-Haul in Minnesota after my sister's graduation from law school. She and my brother-in-law dropped me off in Ohio and I found my way through Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, D.C. and finally settled in a nondescript single-family house in Wheaton, Maryland with hardly anything to my name and zero expectations. I wrote at a magazine in the morning and waited tables at Ruby Tuesday's in the evenings, often wondering what kind of imprint D.C. would have on my life.
I never would have imagined that, three years later, I'd be where I am today. One of my roommates Kevin said it best: "If I met the person I was when I first came to D.C., I don't think I'd recognize him."
I don't care what anyone says but I love this city.