The sound of traffic and police sirens get you up in the morning. In most other cities, this might indicate an emergency. When you live in DC, it’s business as usual. It could be a foreign diplomat coming to town for a dinner and a photo op. It could be the president himself taking a ride to pick up some food. Better it wake you up than shut down four blocks outside your place when you have somewhere to be.
Your apartment building is collecting gifts for a holiday toy drive and the lobby looks like Santa’s toy warehouse. Being surrounded by charitable people makes you feel charitable. After all, if you can afford to drop $1300 on a studio every month, you can certainly afford to buy a Lego set for someone less fortunate (spoiler alert: you can afford neither).
It’s chilly, but you take a walk down to Georgetown for a light European brunch. There are already tourists lining up for Georgetown Cupcake, because this is the only city in the country where that trend didn’t die 3 years ago. You pick whatever place has mimosas on the menu and has the shortest wait for a table. The hostess at the restaurant looks like she makes more money than you ever will – she does.
You’re seated next to a table of Beltway douchebags who think that politics is an appropriate topic of conversation over breakfast. “I’ve been working on the hill since I graduated GW, and this is the worst I’ve ever seen it.” It doesn’t matter what administration it is; they say this for all of them. The important part of that statement is that he works in the government; everything else is filler. He’s probably the mail boy for a congressional aide, and he’s the reason why you need a mimosa.
“How was everything?” the waitress asks, with the kind of genuine smile that tells you she’s probably not originally from here. She’s probably putting herself through law school and will be working at the UN in four years.
After breakfast, you pass by Trader Joe’s, which will be packed because it’s the weekend and most people in the tri-state area rather die than shop at Safeway. The line to check out looks like it will never end, but it moves quickly. The government wishes it was as efficient as Trader Joe’s employees.
With the whole day ahead of you, you start looking on Craigslist for tickets to the concert at the 9:30 Club tonight. You find a responsive seller, but you have to pick up the tickets in person in Bethesda. This is theoretically a 30 minute ride on the red line, but the Metro is single-tracking because of course it is. The board says 7 minutes, but then the estimate disappears altogether. And then it’s 13. Fifteen minutes later, with the smell of burnt rubber making you nauseous, the red lights are finally illuminating to signal an incoming train. The platform is packed with tourists carrying maps and cameras going to the National Mall. These are the kind of people who have to be told not to stop at the top of an escalator.
When you finally meet the Craigslist guy, he starts explaining why he can’t make the show tonight, as though he needs to justify to some stranger why he would ever miss Grizzly Bear or whoever. You hand him a crisp $20 and nod politely. You’re almost positive you were in the same kickball league with this guy last summer, but you think better than to ask. Almost everyone in DC is an implant, so joining some meetup/hookup/networking social club is mandatory.
On your way back into the city, you board the train with a group of hockey fans on their way to a Caps game. Friends, couples, and families with kids, amped to see someone’s teeth get pummeled out of his mouth and onto the ice. Still better than rooting for the Redskins or the Nationals, though. At least the Capitals have a chance of winning.
You make your way through Dupont Circle, where a young mom is sitting with her stroller, with a Starbucks cup in one hand and her iPhone in the other, complaining to her friend about work. The Snowball Fight Association is already eagerly awaiting the first snow of the season so they can turn Dupont Circle into a friendly snowball battleground. Everything is already decorated for Christmas so the city is just begging to be blanketed in white. You’ve already spent more money than you intended to today, so you make a late lunch at home before heading to the concert.
A couple of people are loitering outside the venue, smoking cigarettes. You make your way down the narrow entrance hallway and take your place in the balcony because you don’t care that much about this band. You have a perfect view of the stage overlooking the crowd in the pit, a sea of black tees. You can almost perfectly hear the girl on rail talking about how she is going to FAINT when the band comes on – the acoustics are that good. For as long as you live, wherever you go after DC (because no one stays in DC forever), you will never find a venue as good as the 9:30 Club. This ends up being one of the best concerts you’ve ever seen.
Your friend is texting you to come through U St. You’re not in the mood for that shitshow, but you’re in the area and that show got you hyped. Instead of telling you what bar they’re at, your friend sends you a pin of her location. You end up at some rooftop lounge, where the music is too loud. You’ve only ever been to this place to eat, because every bar and lounge in DC is a regular ass restaurant by day. The drink “specials” are $10 and they ended an hour ago, so well drinks are $13. You mentally tell yourself that you’re only going to get drunk enough to justify picking up a half smoke at Ben’s on the way home.
Your friend eagerly introduces you to her friends from work, whose names you mostly can’t hear. You can already tell she’s dying to hook up with one of them. You bop your head into your glorified vodka cranberry while making fleeting eye contact with the people you just met. One of them leans over and loudly yells into your ear: “What do you do?”
You’ll never be happy in DC unless you’re satisfied with the answer to that question.