Saturday, January 18, 2014

D.C., you're exhilarating

So some friends shared an opinion piece in the Washington Post, titled D.C., you're depressing, on Facebook.

This is my response:


It'll be just a couple of months until I will have been in the District of Columbia for thirty three years, and the city and its people constantly remind me: D.C. is amazing.

Look no further than Metro's timely SmartTrip passes, like the one about the Van Gogh Repetitions Exhibit at the Phillips Collection (until January 26, 2014), for a bit of insight into the city's artistic and cultural values. Pass by and volunteer at Martha's Table, one of a number of amazing local nonprofit "dedicated to fulfilling the needs of low-income and homeless children, families and individuals". The public art as you enter some of the stations inspires you to connect with the piece and often the people in the area, lest they become just a forgettable backdrop to another mundane commute. Community.

After getting into a car accident on my way to work in December (my car is probably totalled), the metro has been an affordable alternative for my weekday commute, especially when you take into consideration the cost of gas, parking, insurance, and the like. And while most people are in their own world, you can sometimes bear witness to some pretty heartwarming experiences.

Like the time I saw a mother reading to her baby in the stroller. Or the other time when a woman hadn't gotten her grip when the train started. She apologized profusely to me and the other guy she had fallen into, after we somewhat caught her and helped her on her feet again, all the while smiling and saying no problem.

There was the time, a commuter who had obviously woken up on the wrong side of the bed, believed there was a conspiracy in the car not to make more room when we were already packed like sardines. And the gentleman by the door stilled made the effort to look around and edge in. But then the doors closed, he looked around and said I tried, and a gentle laugh was shared by some in his immediate vicinity.

And when you exit the metro, at least at the Navy Yard, the Washington Express distributor relentlessly greets each commuter, reminding them that they are here, their day is starting, and here's some morning news to help.

Oh, and at least every other day I run into one acquaintance or another on the metro. Because this really is a small city. And even if you don't know the people right next to you, chances are more often than not, you probable aren't more than two or three degrees separated.

Because there are amazing and intelligent people doing work in every sector imaginable, locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

There is no irony here. Unless it's the fact that you can't judge a city based solely on a mindless, daily commute that is only the beginning of some incredible work. It's the lowest common denominator in a wonderfully diverse city that I am still getting to know more and deeper every day.

The capital of America the Beautiful is, in fact, beautiful AND inspiring. And I'm not just talking about our national memorials & monuments or the wonderful saturation of local art & artists in all forms we have here. The city houses elected officials who occasionally work here and might be more visible in the national media, but the citizens who work around them, who cannot be judged by appearance (especially before many of us have had coffee)...well our work speaks for itself.

D.C. is exhilarating, keep your eyes open, find a place to stand with your lever, and move the world.

- JR aka Nexus aka First Resident of the Brookland Artspace Lofts aka D.C. Lifer

P.S. I acknowledge that in situations like these, one's perceptions are directly related to their intent and experiences (among other factors), which make it possible for D.C. to be both depressing for Mr. Huntmann and exhilarating to me. That being said, I am always open to helping those who experience the city which he has unfortunately described get to know the city which I have loved (particularly in my adult life) and call home.

P.P.S. I'm not a writer by trade, and this was written to somewhat parallel the original work. That being said, it is what it is, and if you don't have anything nice to say? Well, I encourage you to still leave a comment. Just know that if it's about style or technique, I'll probably agree with you. If it's about content, then we can talk :-)
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