Thursday, January 10, 2008

For Old Time's Sake...

“Everything changes, but everything stays the same”

I went back to my old stomping ground last night. As I headed into DC, it didn’t feel as though 6 months had passed since I’d last been there, the great big city where I’d spent nearly 2 years of my life—the place where I’d first discovered what it really was to be a part of the real-world, the place where I chose not to become an adult quite yet.

Despite my absence, everything in DC was the same. Our nation’s capital was just as I’d left it, kept in place by politicians, taxpayer dollars, talking heads, government programs, convoluted 6 lane highways and off-ramps, and a mess of trains, planes and automobiles.

However, one thing was different: Me.

I parked my car where I knew I could always find parking: Pentagon City. Then I hopped the Metro to go downtown to meet up with my old roommate, Emily, for happy hour. I was happy, feeling young, alive, excited for a night out sharing new stories with old friends. But as I looked around me, everywhere on the Metro, I saw my old self. Tired, pale faces worn with the look of too many hours staring at a computer screen, sitting in a chair, churning out project after project—relieved to be heading home.

Walking out into the city from the Farragut West Metro stop was not a thing like stepping out into New York City on New Years Eve. At 5:00 on a random Wednesday in January, DC was all business. A rush of no-frills black suits and cardigans with trouser pants filed past me into the Metro station. Standing outside of my old office building, I was hit with many old feelings, which, more than anything made me rejoice in my newfound irresponsible freedom, fleeting as it may be. I was glad not to be part of the daily office-place exodus.

Despite all that, it was great to catch up over beers with friends, just like old times. Not much had changed, which was reassuring and unsettling all at once. It was nice to just slide right back into the life I used to lead as if I’d never left it, but strange to think that the longer I stay away, the more distant that life will become.

Meeting my friends for happy hour gave me a touch of nostalgia. I missed the taste of blue-moon from the tap with an orange slice after a particularly pain-staking day in the office, runs across the key bridge, weekends of window shopping in Georgetown, driving home at night with the Washington monument lit up across the Potomac river as my backdrop.

In any case, the DC parking police had not yet forgotten about me. I crashed at Emily’s new place right outside of Georgetown (all the girls I used to live with in our lovely upper-Georgetown shithole had since abandoned ship and moved on to bigger and better—and cleaner, nicer apartments). After many-a-parking ticket from my former DC days, running from the law, hiding my car wherever I could hide it, moving my car at odd hours of the night, fighting over access to our tiny driveway, and despite it all, refusing to actually register my car with DC tags…I think it absolutely appropriate that this morning, when I woke up, those bastards left me with my fondest memory of all from DC…

…Another parking ticket…for old time’s sake…

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