When I was 13, my dad offered to take me on a trip over spring break. My choices were Washington, D.C. or Disneyworld, and picking D.C. was a no-brainer for me (when my brother got the same offer, he went with Disneyworld).
I remember bits and pieces from that trip. We had to change hotels after our first night because the one my dad picked was in such a bad area (although I was too oblivious to notice). We visited the Capitol Mall and the Lincoln Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery. I’m pretty sure we went to one of the Smithsonian Museums as well. And we went to a Georgetown-St. John’s basketball game, where I picked up a Georgetown sweatshirt that I wore until it no longer fit. I’m positive I have pictures from this trip somewhere but I haven’t been able to find them.
I returned to D.C. the summer after my sophomore year of college. My friend Kari was working there for the summer and I took a spontaneous trip to visit her for the July 4th weekend. Still underage, it was somewhat thrilling to sit on the Capitol Mall, drinking wine, playing cards and watching the fireworks with tens of thousands of other people. Afterwards, we walked all the way back to Kari’s place in Arlington, stopping at the Lincoln Memorial along the way. We may have been a little tipsy.
Coming out of college, I planned to head east. I applied to law school at Yale, Boston University, Cornell, Georgetown and Virginia, but after Georgetown waitlisted me, I enrolled at Minnesota instead of Boston or Cornell, opting for in-state tuition over the lure of the east coast. A year later, when it was time to apply for summer associate positions, I applied to law firms all over New York and D.C., only to be shut out. I headed to Chicago instead and have been here ever since.
That will change by the end of December – I’m moving to Washington, D.C. to start what is pretty much my dream job! I’ll write about that more in another post, but suffice it to say I will finally be doing what I wanted to do when I returned from my career break three years ago. Patience and persistence have paid off.
So what am I looking forward to the most about living in D.C.?
A shorter commute. D.C. is much more compact than Chicago. Right now my daily commute takes me close to an hour each way. Living in D.C., it’s very possible I could live somewhere within walking distance from my office – or at the very least a 20 minute Metro or bus ride away.
Weekend trips. Aside from DC, I have really only spent time in New York and Boston on the east coast. I am looking forward to being able to easily do weekend trips to places like Philadelphia, Charleston and Savannah. New York will also be just a cheap, three-hour train ride away to visit friends up there.
International flight options. Last year when I went to Mali and Burkina Faso, I flew out of D.C. (and used miles to get from Chicago to D.C.) because it was so much cheaper than flying out of Chicago – $700 cheaper to be exact. A quick comparison of flights to Europe tells me those flights will likely be cheaper and slightly faster as well. Yay!
Embassies. I’m kind of excited about the prospect of living in the city that is home to most of the foreign embassies in the country. No more sending my passport off and waiting anxiously for it to be mailed back to me when I need to get a visa in advance. Instead, I’ll be able to apply for my visas in person!
New social circles. I’m lucky to already have a handful of friends in D.C. and I’m looking forward to expanding that circle. It has been no secret that I have struggled since returning to Chicago after my career break. Many old friends have gotten married, had kids and moved to the suburbs (or beyond) and I just don’t feel like I have that much in common with many of the other people I meet here. I think D.C. may just be more up my alley and, being new in town, I think I will be more comfortable venturing out to events on my own and forcing myself to meet new people. This of course applies to dating as well!
Snow days. We generally don’t get snow days in Chicago. We’re used to snow here and the city can handle it, so it takes something like the Snowpocalypse of 2011 to force us to stay home from work. Not so much in D.C. I was there for work last January and everything shut down for like an inch of snow. Awesome.
Rise Bakery. I discovered this gluten-free bakery in Adams-Morgan on a trip to D.C. last spring and I am totally in love with it. I don’t have anything similar to it near me in Chicago, so if I end up living anywhere close to Adams-Morgan, I will probably be spending a lot of time there on the weekends!
Change. More than anything, I am just really excited to make a big change! I have spent my entire life in the Midwest and the majority of my adult life in Chicago. While I will always love Chicago, I am looking forward to having a whole new city to discover and explore. Stay tuned for a D.C. bucket list for me to check off after I make the move!