Why hello there. Welcome to my green, sunny, and rainy corner of VA. The parkways are closed in by trees touching overhead. The river in the mornings is flat and smooth, parted only by bridges and shells of rowers in the early morning fog. The Washington Monument is still there, beneath a skin of scaffolding. Sometimes it rains.
The street layout in the District is still intimidating and nonsensical – in spite of borrowing the best parts of street layouts from Frankfurt, Milan, Amsterdam, and Paris. The resulting gridded quadrant, or quadranted grid, may have been inspiring for horse-drawn carriages but is challenging for the newer horseless ones. I refer to downtown because that’s where most of the large office buildings are, and because downtown sounds nicer and more intuitive than Northwest DC, but technically DC doesn’t have a downtown, which puts Manhattanites at an immediate disadvantage. There are all kinds of subliminal street-related cues – like, when you come across a street with the Capitol at the end, there’s a pretty good chance that it will be named Capitol Street. This happens fairly often because there are four of these streets. Actually there are four of most streets. Which means, among other things, that there are fewer street names to learn because mostly letters, numbers, and states are used as names. You get used to the same street showing up in unexpected locations. DC, like the Earth, assumes it’s a pretty important place. If you drive far enough you’re bound to cross the same street again.
My weekends of late have been consumed with looking at rooms and apartments in the DC and VA. Unfortunately, buying isn’t an option for yours truly. Currently the lowest priced home (a modest/fixer 1100′ rancher) in my zip code is $710,000, and these typically sell for 20 – 40% above list price due to intense competition. It’s hot hot hot, as they say.
Which leaves the author hunched over his little laptop at night scanning Craigslist feeds and sending out countless emails, which either begin with “I’d like to take a look” or “About me:” depending on whether the ad is for an apartment or a room. Room shopping is the worst. (are you a morning person, how often do you have friends over, do you clean, is there parking, how long does it take you to shower, do you cook nasty food or splatter up the stove, does it always look this messy, what’s that smell, does that dog ever stop barking). Small bedrooms (10 x 10) with a shared bathroom and living quarters are going for $800/mo and up, without parking (which is less than half of what I pay for my 500 sq. ft. unshared studio). Apartments or studios for less than $1500 are snapped up instantly as I’ve found so many times, even when I email the owner within ten minutes of posting, they’re often gone or I’ll be #16 on the waiting list. Imagine my surprise and delight when I went and looked at yet another place last weekend, and it was still available. It was a one bedroom in Falls Church next to a park, the W&OD bike trail and subway station. I wrote a check on the spot, collected the keys, and scheduled the movers. My current lease ends in July so I’ll have a few weeks to get situated in what I hope can become a more permanent place. It’s certainly more affordable.
Yesterday was spent in a leisurely way hanging out with a friend, perusing Eastern Market, admiring brownstones on Capitol Hill, brunching in Arlington, a garden tour in Georgetown, exploring the National Cathedral, with a perfect ending at 2Amy’s Pizza. I love this town.