Today over at those kooky Crazy Hip Blog Mamas, the carnival is on neighbors.
Funny enough, I have posted about my neighbors before, like for example on here — one of the entries that deals with my deep-seated hatred of those who live next to me. But just reading that one entry would be awfully unfair to them, actually.
The neighbors are not as awful as all that anymore.
They are human, and they are nice –not part-jackal or hyena as previously feared. Specifically, they have regained their humanity because this one horrible woman is gone. You bet "Ding-Dong The Witch Is Dead" was sung around here on that beautiful day. Hold on: I gotta blink a tear back. *blink*
So in that spirit, I am going to tell you this: Washington DC gets a bad reputation for many reasons, but its true redemption as a great-to-live-in town comes from a little-known secret.
The neighborhoods are awesome. Specifically, my neighborhood is awesome. And neighborhoods are made up of neighbors, are they not? So from this brief syllogism one can conclude that Capitol Hill’s awesomeness is directly correlated to the neighbors’ awesomeness.
When one is an outsider to the DC area, one does not know how the city and its exurbs/suburbs are laid out. But once you move here and realize that the complicated and weird squarish grid of DC is actually a river valley and a swamp filled with different personalities and quirks and separated by seemingly small but profoundly marking physical boundaries, the city becomes a rich fabric of color and idiosyncrasies that are distinctly regional in nature. For instance, if you accidentally confuse Logan Circle with Dupont Circle– despite its only being a trifle to the east of the latter– you will get a dirty look.
I suggest you don’t even try to tell someone from Georgetown that they live in Foggy Bottom, because you might lose a limb.
And so my neighborhood of Capitol Hill is a particular brand of awesome.
Sure, many neighborhoods have problems –some more than others, especially in a city known for its violent crime– and I am not saying that this neighborhood in particular is crime-free. People do get mugged around here, and I don’t recommend people walk around here after dark with loads of valuables.
What I am saying is that there is something in Capitol Hill.
It’s something beyond the beautiful buildings close by; and the Victorian houses standing primly next to one another and commingling with the apartment buildings, the Hope VI housing and the empty lots; and the magnolias and the beautifully manicured lawns and the ratty fields of weeds and the summer mosquitos; and the millions of strollers, and nannies, and the doggies; and the friendly older folks who sit on their porches on warm nights and say hello to passers-by; and the not-so-friendly younger folks who would rather lose their iPod than deign say hello or get out of your way.
Oh, and the jerky dog owners who act as if the world is their beloved dog’s toilet. BAGGIES, people! Learn how to use ’em!
And the nasty people who won’t return a hello. And the rude congressmen and Feds. (there are nice ones of those too)
And the sometimes-immature people who directly surround you and do things that you think are completely thoughtless, while you turn around and do other things that are very, very, very thoughtless in turn.
And it’s even beyond the community organizations who try to monitor the neighborhood and alternately make it tighter-knit and a little homogeneous at the same time.
Capitol Hill has lovely green areas and a lower skyline than almost anywhere else in town, which makes it sweet and quaint and a little distant.
The majestic and huge Massachusetts Avenue becomes a little trickle of a street here.
The houses are in some places less grandiose than other places in town, and some are still shabby from years of bare-bones upkeep.
The parks are always brimming with children, and the restaurants overflow with people eager to take a "late lunch".
The streets now have a meaning to me, and I know them well. Each is a landmark, and has a memory associated with it.
They are teeming with people who probably did not grow up around here, but who also think of this stale, muggy place as their home.
Capitol Hill has a certain something, and that something feels like home.
Although I live in a Midwestern burb now, I did live in Chicago (and I mean Chicago…the city proper and not the suburbs) for a bit. And I loved every minute of it. No matter where you live, there are problems. My suburb has been in the news more times than I’d like to admit. So I envy you living in DC! Every urban neighborhood has such character! And I think it’s fantastic you recognize it too!
Here via the chbm!
I love the atmosphere that you created with this post!
I’ve never been to DC, nor was I ever interested. But you just made me want to walk down the streets of your neighborhood. *sigh*
when i first moved to the area, i lived in a rowhouse on the Hill. i ended up staying there for 3 years. i literally cried the day i moved out. i so didn’t want to leave because i felt like i was already home. i didn’t want to go through the effort of creating a new one (i was comforted by the fact that i was creating a new home with the boyfriend). your post just reminded me of why i cried the day i moved and why i get a lump in my throat every time i visit the old hood. thanks for the reminder! 🙂
Although I now live in economic exile, inthe Virginia subrubs, I sorely miss living on The Hill.
As you know, I only lived blocks form where you live, and leaving that neighborhood is difficult… made harder still by the recent loss of Eastern Market.
i’m so glad you’re in love with DC. i hate it. LOL stay outta lincoln park after dark (but you probably already know that.) i do miss the corner stores tho…