How to Live in DC

Get accepted into an internship position through your school. Think that you are officially awesome and have input, after all its only a matter of time before you are rubbing elbows with influential people. Lets face it the metro is crowded enough you rub elbows with them every day. Use this internship to secure a “real” job because your supervisor “has a guy” who can hook you up. Call all your friends for ledes on a place to live, no one returns your call. Move out to stay with an obscure (but ultimately awesome) family friend. Look for a place to live on craigslist and realize that an apartment in the city, near work, is $1800.00. Curse the heavens. Look further away. Go to look at apartment in Shaw-Howard. See police sign warning “If caught dealing drugs your car will be towed”. Don’t see apartment in Shaw-Howard. Find a room in a house in Adams Morgan with 3 late 30’s, early 40’s gay men. It has a hot tub, a roof deck, and easy commute. Sell your soul and firstborn to stay there.

Ride a bus for the first time since school. Spot the crazy person and avoid them. Spot the Tea Party activist, and upset their realities. Fall asleep on the bus and walk 2 miles home, at night, through Adam’s Morgan. Wave to the 40 policemen and their moving drunk tanks standing by for just another thursday night. Avoid getting stabbed. See that you’ve spent all your money on rent, food, and metro. Cry a little inside. Use your roommate’s granny cart to get groceries. Soak your feet after walking everywhere.

Visit the Holocaust Museum. Stand all amazed at how the memorial room with the eternal flame is in the shape of a star of David. Cry a lot inside.

Start work doing politics …. I mean fixing the copy machine, updating websites, not getting fired. Learning curve of 3 months, pass it in 2 weeks. Go to your first networking event. stand in the corner. Go to 2nd networking event. Start making friends fast. Everyone has a five-year plan, is from somewhere else, is as shocked as you, and just repeating what they heard someone else say. Go to 1st gay networking event. Make friends with the inter-faith people and then have a cute boy want to take you home. Politely make it less awkward by saying how you need to head home to feed your roommates cat. The cat doesn’t exist.

Meet your first big name. He’s smoking pot in your basement. Realize its time to move. Start looking again. Spend a year making your position obsolete by training people how to do what you do. Realize you are on track to becoming an IT person who holds a Political Science degree. Freak out. Mess up because you trust a client. Get blamed for it because you are at the bottom of the ladder. Fix the problem by having awesome friends who pull through for you. Move apartments. Spot a Supreme Court nominee on the street. Tweet it you nerd. Realize you have nothing to say to her.

Come up with a broader role at your firm. Write up memo setting up that position. Pitch it to your CEO. Your boss and her boss get completely pissed off at you for keeping them out of the loop on purpose. You didn’t. CEO likes the idea and shows it to the new VP. New VP takes you to lunch. You move to become a politics guy … doing tech. You love it. Move apartments again, this time to Bethesda.

1st Election rolls around, you are int he politics shop, you can actually influence things. Show VP article about crazy anti-gay candidate we are thinking of supporting. Get VP to pull support. Smile inside. Have your first lunch meeting at Google. Take the vegetarian option. Start building political websites that you will run. Find a designer, learn how to code, take your first class on Google AdWords. Call Hulu, set up appointment, pitch your boss and start running ads within 3 weeks. Smile bigger inside. Run 30 campaigns for 90 hours/wk. Go to work at 8, leave at 10, eat dinner, work until 3am. Wash. Rinse. Repeat for 3 months.

Election night you have been at work for 36 hours. Collapse. Start post-election wrap-up and analysis. Start dating someone. He invites you to the White House Christmas party. Go. See the coolest library in the world. Take a book off the shelf. feel awesome and wicked. Take photos. Meet the President. Realize you actually do have things to say to the President. Smile. Take Photo with President. Keep smiling. Go home for Christmas. Realize that at home, no one has a five-year plan. Get really disturbed by this. Realize you will probably never move back home. Break up with guy.

Contrast home with DC and realize that you finally have found a place you fit in. Amongst people who are all from somewhere else. DC, the great American melting pot. Pick your favorite 5 issues and learn everything about them. Debate with people. Have a visiting friend tell you to calm down when you are just talking with someone else about economic policy. Your friend thinks the two of you are about to pull out knifes and start fighting. You think this is normal conversation. It is.

Finally settle on a path for your five-year plan. Meticulously plan it all out. Start with step one, getting accepted to Oxford. Apply. Fail. Cry. Rebuild plan with other schools. Start looking for another job that will get you to the same place as your first plan. See a perfect job at Google and think “I can get this job”. Spend 5 days frustratingly tweaking your resume to be perfect. Fearlessly apply to Google. Wake up the next morning thinking. “Oh God what have I done.”  Then check your email. A recruiter from Google wants to set up an interview for tomorrow. Go outside and yell.

Run the gauntlet of interviews, each time fearlessly applying yourself beforehand and kicking yourself afterwords. Impress people, get hired. Tell your boss who took a chance on you last year. Feel like crap for leaving him. Pack up your stuff. Have your boss slightly forgive you for leaving him. Still feel like crap. Pause on your last day. Smell the air. Take a look at the capitol dome and realize all you have yet to do here. Think to yourself “Dang, I’m leaving D.C.” Imprint the following on your heart “I’ll be back soon.”

  • Evan Clayson

    This is sweet. Good luck, David. You will do great things!

    Also, I love the format of your blog! 

  • Mister Curie

    I hope you will be back soon, in the meantime, have a most amazing time at Google!

  • Rob

    You forgot one last thing.

    Write about your experience in such a way that all your friends and family glow with pride at your accomplishments and are reminded of what a great guy you are and how lucky they are to have you in their lives.

  • This is a beautiful piece of prose. I miss your guts.

  • Matt

    Insightful. 

  • gina.haywood

     David,
    It was a day that I felt like going through and reading some of your older posts and this one jumped out at me. I love how you said “Go home for Christmas. Realize that at home, no one has a five-year
    plan. Get really disturbed by this. Realize you will probably never move
    back home.”. This is the spot I am in right now. I’d move back to DC in a heartbeat if I thought that it was financially a good idea (or I didn’t feel prompted to move to Utah for a little bit) and I come home and no one had a five-year plan. I came home expecting to have this great trip, since I am moving, and have time with the family and it’s just… not there. I love them, all of them, but it’s like over the last four years I have been having experiences in college, in DC, in various travels that have set me up to know that I need to have that five-year plan, to have ideas with what I want to do in life and I come home and no one has that. It’s like they are standing still, or maybe I’m just moving at hyper-speed. Either way, I appreciated this post. I’ve been feeling ungrateful or judgmental but I feel better knowing that other people go home and realize that their family is not on the same page as them, find a place where they belong and it’s okay. I appreciate it. And you! I hope you are having some great new adventures.