In honor of my imminent departure, I’ve compiled a list of the five things I will miss the most about DC, as well as five things I will not miss at all.
What I’ll Miss
1) The Metro. Sure, we all complain about it. But have you ever tried riding the NYC subway? (Sorry, New Yorkers.) Or getting around in a place with no metro at all? We’ve got a pretty good system here. It’s clean, easy to navigate, and it gets you where you want to go, usually. Dear SmarTrip card, I will miss thee.
2) Squirrels. DC squirrels are special. I’ve walked past Farragut Square on many a morning and admired their limitless energy and industriousness. I watched one build a giant magnolia-leaf nest outside my apartment window a few weeks ago. I assume his wife is in there right now, making baby squirrels, and I will miss meeting them. (We even have black squirrels in DC, which are even more special than the gray ones. Read more about them.)
3) Segway tours. Tourists and the massive buses they like to ride around in can be very annoying. But segway tours are another story. I’ll be sitting at a restaurant, or walking down the street, and suddenly a swarm of humanoids in helmets glides past, noiselessly, on these silly-looking machines. I never get tired of watching one of those tours roll by. I laugh every time.
4) Dolcezza. Dolcezza is an Argentinian-owned coffee shop at Connecticut Ave. and R St. I’m enamored with it — the big wooden communal table, the white tile floor, the scalding hot americanos, the locally baked pastries, the quirky tattooed baristas, and, most of all, the gelato. Dolcezza’s valrhone chocolate gelato is ridiculously good. I almost fell over the first time I ate it. Life without Dolcezza is hard to fathom.
5) Farmers markets. I’m not ashamed to admit it — I’m a pretentious locavore food snob and I love farmers markets. Food shopping, which I used to hate, is now a highlight of my week, not just for the food but also for the entertainment value. At the Dupont farmers market one recent Sunday, I heard a man say to his five-year-old daughter, “Be careful with that bag, honey. You’re crushing the squash blossoms!” Farmers markets are ubiquitous here but not so in South Africa.
What I Won’t Miss
1) Annoying fundraising/petition people. This city is overrun by young, clipboard-clutching do-gooders who stand in the middle of the sidewalk and try to engage you in conversation about their cause. They make eye contact when you’re about ten feet away and then call out, “Good afternoon! Do you have a minute to talk about gay rights/hungry children/saving the whales [insert other good cause here]?” These people are so annoying and they continue to multiply. I have never stopped to speak to one of them and I never will. Seriously, your cause is great and all, but just leave me alone.
2) Crowds at Gallery Place. Walk within four-blocks of the Verizon Center on a Friday night and prepare to be incensed. It’s much like Times Square but way less kitschy and with more rude teenagers. On a recent visit to the area, I was yelled at by a man in a pickup truck who felt I was walking too slowly through the crosswalk, even though the light had 20 seconds left. Ugh, Gallery Place. I pretty much hate everyone who goes there.
3) Eighth grade trips. Anyone who’s lived or worked in DC knows the misery of sitting on a quiet, peaceful metro car, and watching it get invaded by 40 13-year-olds and their hapless chaperones. The kids barrel onto the train in a whirlwind of noise and body odor. Most of them stand in the aisle and don’t grab hold of anything, so when the train moves they lose their balance and fall on your lap while laughing hysterically. It’s unpleasant.
4) Parking tickets. Need I say more?
5) Snobby restaurant maître d’s who refuse to grant reservations. “Table for five? Okay. We can seat you before 5:30 or after 10:00.” Please, you’re just too lazy to take my reservation. I know such people exist in other cities too but I hope to encounter fewer of them in Joburg.
The list of things I’ll miss could be much longer, but I struggled to come up with five good items for the “won’t miss” list. I must admit that DC is a pretty nice place to live. But it has one huge strike against it — it’s not Africa. That’s why I have to leave. (In 24 days!)