Monday, September 9, 2013

A Whole 'Nother World

The smells, the scenery, architecture, people, culture, accents, food.  These are some of the things very different from anything I have ever experienced.  Luckily people in D.C. speak English though sometimes I can’t exactly communicate with the people around me.  I live in the middle-class African American area of Washington D.C.  The exact name is Brightwood Park in the northwest quadrant of the city to the right of Rock Creek Park on the map.  I am indeed a minority in my neighborhood.  It is a good change though it is most definitely uncomfortable at times.  In the three days I have been living here, I have learned more about people than I did in 4 years at Westmont College. 

D.C. is a beautiful city.  There are row upon row of row houses, each painted differently than the next.  The trees are old; heck, the buildings are old.  The house I live in was built in the 1920s.  There are families in this neighborhood that have been living here since the 1960s.  This neighborhood used to be the Jewish part of D.C. in the early twentieth century.  My D.C. mom, as I call her, told me that the Black community moved into this part of the city starting in the 1950s when the Jewish populaces began moving out.  The people here are hard-working Americans.  They drive Mercedes-Benzs, BMWs, Toyotas, Fords, Hondas, and POS’s.  It is middle-class America, but this middle-class America is very different than the one I grew up with.  It is a good change. 

I love the brick here; it is everywhere and reminds me of home.  The churches here are old too.  There are beautiful brick chapels everywhere you turn.  Every building has a history and secrets.

My D.C. mom has told me that there isn’t very much crime in the neighborhood, mostly domestic violence and drugs.  Actually, it is more dangerous to live in Columbia Heights and Georgetown (the richer whiter part of DC) because the thugs go there to mug and rob “rich” people.  A friend of my D.C. parents was beat over the head with a baseball bat less than a mile away from capital hill last year.  He is now blind, partially paralyzed, and has extensive brain damage; the perpetrators got an Iphone and some cash.  The story is definitely scary and made me nervous when I heard it but there’s no sense living in fear of something you can’t predict or control.  Besides, that sort of violence is rare and the exception to the rule. 

It is easy to get lost in D.C.  I’m glad I didn’t bring a car because there are a ton of one-way streets here that are extremely difficult to navigate.  Also, Washington D.C. was voted worst traffic in the nation this year.  As someone who has experienced L.A. traffic that is a terrifying thought.

I am just beginning my journey of getting to know this city and its inhabitants.  It is a place of much more diversity than any place I have lived and I am excited to contribute to it.  People here think that people from California are extremely cool and interesting, which is awesome.  Note to all friends from California:  the best way to get a girls number in this city is to name-drop Santa Barbara.  Cha-Ching! Thank you liberal arts education! 

I start work next week and I can’t wait for it!