Friday, January 21, 2011

Random DC Memories

Having just visited Washington, DC, and also reminiscing on the phone with a dear friend and former roommate from my early DC days, these random memories came to mind from my time (1989-2010) in DC. I arrived in Washington in September 1989, age 22, after graduating from college and spending the summer in Kenya, and did not leave until last year (except for a brief stint in New York for grad school, but DC remained my home where I returned during breaks). The early days were about being on my own for the first real time (college did not count): first apartment; first real job search and then first real job secured; roommates; paying bills; struggling; roaming the city on foot all the time; parties and happy hours and crazy times. Over time I built a career, made many friends, lived in many apartments, bought a car, left briefly for grad school, got married, bought a house, etc. Life progressed. So many friends left DC, but I stayed. So much life happened there in DC for me - in that little diamond of earth along the Potomac. With no car, I remember in my first few years in DC I never really left the NW quadrant. Back in those days we never traveled out to VA or MD and rarely to other parts of the city. Later my world would expand to cover all of the city and the suburbs, but that happened mainly when I moved to Rosslyn and had a car. Then I moved to Takoma Park, just over the DC line. But I was always in the city. I drove through the city every day to work and spent most of my social life still in that little diamond. So many changes in the city over 20 years. It sometimes blows my mind driving around the city and remembering how it was and is now. So many memories. I guess that happens for all of those who live in a place for a long time and witness its changes. I think it is fun to remember those things. Reach way, way back 5, 10, 20 years ago.

Some of you who will read this list will know these things because you lived them with me or you were also in the city in those days. I've missed a lot, but these were the things that popped readily into my head. Do you remember some of these things?(this list is in no particular order)
  • a friend swimming in the Dupont Circle fountain
  • a rat running across our feet walking down the street
  • blow out parties at the California Street apartment
  • our first apartment at the Chaselton
  • seeing the Clintons coming out of church on Sundays as their church was around the corner from one of my old apartments
  • the Obama inauguration - freezing my behind off but in a crowd of so many people and so much awe and love
  • shopping at the Soviet Safeway back when $20 went quite a long way
  • G&Ts at Fox & Hound on the patio then pizza at Trios
  • the peeping tom (and the crazy building managers) at one apartment building in Arlington
  • running the marine corps marathon
  • Mr. Eagan's happy hours - pitchers of beer, popcorn, darts and stealing the glasses with Mr. Eagan's portrait
  • Seeing a free Captain & Tennille concert at the Washington monument one evening - that was hysterical
  • Seeing Ella Fitzgerald perform one sunny afternoon at Wolftrap - that was amazing
  • working at the Gap on Connecticut Avenue (old location was right near Lucky Bar) so long ago...when there were no restaurants on the street except for a nasty Roy Rogers
  • being mugged at gun point outside of my apartment on California Street (Embassy District - supposedly safe) at around 2 am
  • dancing at Kilimanjaro, not soon after I had moved to DC from Nairobi
  • going to the old 930 club with an old friend who worked there and then going to dance across the street at the Vault
  • the riots in Columbia Heights
  • the hookers on 14th street
  • U street before it had restaurants and shops and condos and crazy nightlife and Adams Morgan before it became the way it is now
  • Hell, when they first opened and there were no signs and only the locals knew (it was there before Heaven)
  • 18th street lounge at the beginning, before it became crowded and trendy - it was so awesome when it first started
  • great farewell parties and New Year's Eve celebrations at Stetsons, back when it was a really fun, neighborhood bar
  • Kemp Mill Records
  • DC before Starbucks
  • the homeless Vietnam vet who used to hang out by the Dupont Circle metro, circa 1989-1990
  • the singing homeless woman from Connecticut Avenue (made famous in the "She's Homeless" dance club song)
  • Going to Trax, wearing overalls and not much else, and dancing all night long in a sea of gay men
  • temping at a law firm back when people smoked at their desks (1989)
  • Restaurant Club and Hike Club and Book Club
  • George Peppard feeling up my backless dress at the American Cancer Society Ball
There are so, so many more. I would love to hear about memories from other long time DC people...please share.

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