DC Is purgatory

Living in DC isn't good or bad, its fine.

My three years in Washington have always felt temporary from the moment I arrived, and there was never a doubt in my mind that I would return home once college ended for the simple reason that DC just doesn't feel 'real.' It lacks a certain quality that other cities like New York, San Francisco, and Boston possess, the proverbial "grittiness" so often ascribed and so rarely clarified. DC is the Duplo to New York's Lego, the RC Cola to San Francisco's Coca-Cola, the Lifestyles to Boston's Trojan. It just seems... off-brand.

There is nothing particularly bad or offensive about Washington, DC - and perhaps that is the biggest problem.

Yes, there are many minor annoyances. Everything closes too early. The Metro is woefully unacceptable - trains seem to come every two minutes during rush hour, leading to catastrophic backups and constant delays, while never EVER coming much past 9PM, leading to pissed off drunk people hailing down creepy taxis that don't take credit cards.

Yes, it is lacking in certain basic amenities. You cannot find pizza, or bagels, or Mexican food, or Italian, or decent sushi for the most part. You must look hard for malt liquor, a strike against any legitimate city. For some inexplicable reason you cannot purchase liquor on Sundays, which seems like a vestigial remnant from some long forgotten time when religious types ignored the fact that sometimes a man needs to buy whiskey to go along with his football.

Yes, there are too many tourists. However, it is difficult to blame the tourists themselves for the pilgrimage, given how pretty this city can be. Free museums, art galleries, monuments that rise from the ground like marble emblems of freedom: it makes sense that people would come to visit. In New York, tourists are a constant annoyance to residents because it seems as though they just don't 'get it.' They walk too slow, they choke the streets and ultimately they just don't understand that people are trying to work here. New York isn't some cityscape in a snow globe meant to be admired - it is a real place where people work and live.

DC does not seem real. It seems like the kind of city a corporation would set up for its employees with all the comforts of a real city and none of the little details that make a city whole. I assume residents of Celebration and Hershey feel the same way trapped in preplanned cities supported by one main business.

In that sense, maybe this is what Catholics mean when they refer to purgatory. Between the fires of hell and the bliss of heaven is God's waiting room, neither good nor bad.

I remember my trip back to Washington this January, driving down I-95 in snow so bad that the front window of the bus looked travelling through hyperspace in the Millenium Falcon. Stepping off the bus on 10th and H was like stepping into a nuclear winter, as hail the size of Tic-Tacs pelted my clothes and immediately froze to the fibers. I stood in the sleeting downpour and grabbed the first taxi I could find. I was aghast when the driver allowed another person to pile in with me so he could score a double fare. I arrived at my building covered in a thin layer of ice, realizing that for the next two weeks the city would be utterly paralyzed by a scant few inches of snow.

It was too deserted to be hell, too infuriating to be heaven. Hence, purgatory. If only I could find the Virgil to my Dante.

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