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May 22, 2008

on leaving DC

We're getting ready to move CIRCLE to Tufts University on July 1 (as previously announced), and that means a move for my family as well. I've lived in DC since 1992; my wife, somewhat longer. I'm not sure that I would claim that DC is an objectively better place than others, but one develops a deep fondness for a city where one lives for a long time and experiences whole stages of life. I was a young single guy here, learning about the work world. I was married here and had children here. I've received joyous and tragic news here. The parts of the city where I have spent lots of time are not very extensive. Within those areas, I can recall specific events that took place on virtually every block, sometimes in six or seven buildings within a single block.

I've been writing here about "DC," not "Washington." The latter is the capital of the United States, the diplomatic, political, and media center. The former is a large city in the mid-Atlantic region with a fairly stable population and a distinctive local culture. This distinction is not simply one of class or income. You can be a poorly-paid environmental lobbyist and belong to "Washington," or a successful restauranteur or real-estate lawyer who is very much part of "DC." Nor is the distinction simply one of race. "DC" is predominantly Black, and Washington is predominantly White; but they are both quite diverse. It's a subtle distinction with blurred borders, which one can observe at Redskins games, firework celebrations on the Mall, and the downtown department stores. But there is a difference, and it's mainly DC that I will miss rather than Washington. I'll miss the brick townhouses with cornices and pyramidal roofs, seafood from the Bay, the accents of both African American and white natives, settings from George Pelicanos' novels, the Post Style Section, Pollo Compero, and Metro drivers who announce "Joodicuary Square." As a yuppie who came to town to work for a political organization, I can't say I'm really of DC. But as a member of a DC public school family and a commuter who has spent 90 minutes every day on the Metro for the past 15 years, I can say that I have some DC in me. And I don't think I'll shake it off.

May 22, 2008 4:26 PM | category: none


hi peter - mixed congratulations on the move - i know how it feels. i lived - and loved - in the city for about half the time you've spent (and never quite earned "yuppie" status) but to this day i miss the students i worked with at booker t. washington public charter school. and the museums. and ben's. and so much more.

so as you and your family prepare for a big transition, i wish you the very best. as i'll be working just across the town line from you in nearby cambridge come july, perhaps our paths will cross!

very best,


May 22, 2008 11:16 PM | Comments (1) | posted by lhtorres

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