A few years ago, I decided I'd had it with New York and was moving to D.C., because I could finally admit to myself that I just liked living here better.
Upon hearing this, people generally regard me with the same polite stare they would give someone who said she really enjoys needlepoint, or who perhaps has gone too long without a diagnosis of some kind. People move to D.C. because they got a job, or because they want to be involved with government, or because they are going to school. Nobody moves here because they like it better than someplace else, especially when that someplace is New York.
After all, New York is Radiohead; D.C. is Kelly Clarkson. New York is Jon Stewart; D.C. is Jay Leno. New York is Brooklyn; D.C. is Fairfax. New York is Tiffany; D.C. is Kay Jewelers.
I'm not going to sit here and type up how D.C. is "cool" or the ways in which New York sucks. D.C. is not cool, and New York doesn't suck, much as I'm tempted reflexively to say that it does. The fact is that I could not enjoy living here without having lived in Manhattan. New York was my fantasy town from about 12 years old and I love many things about it.
This year I have had five personal ties of varying significance vanish in some way, and two of those were friends who joined girlfriends in NYC (p.b., I ain't mad atcha). They're psyched. Why wouldn't they be?
Still, I reserve my right *not* to be jealous, and not to particularly care about New York anymore. Wow, I lived there for seven years of my life... do I miss it? Do I visit a lot? Well, no and no. I miss very much my friends who happen to live there. But the first time I went back, months after leaving, was surreal: Had this really been my home for so long? I felt shame mixed with a sense of unworthiness. It was like running into someone with whom you had a serious love relationship, and feeling absolutely nothing. Who was the me who lived, worked and thought there? I couldn't channel her anymore. Now, the Sunday Times (if I even read it) is like People magazine to me.
You could explain part of my allegiance to D.C. by pointing out that I am "from here," but that wouldn't quite be right. I am from Potomac, Md. -- a land of McMansions, chain stores and bar mitzvahs -- and ventured into D.C. only occasionally during my time at home. Still, I'll admit that's part of my having developed a comfort level here. This weekend included trips to the Target on Rockville Pike, a concert at the Black Cat and a corn maze in Fredericksburg, Va.: aka big-box retail, a middling rock venue and provinciality supreme. It's home. For a change I'm not ambivalent, but grateful.