An Expat’s Ode to DC
Well, I’ll admit it. I miss DC. This is not to say I don’t enjoy Amman, which I do very much. I’m glad to be away from the neoliberal wasteland DC has become. The Middle East is a very paradoxical place. While the society at large has traditional values that often manifest themselves in more overtly misogynist, homophobic and transphobic ways, there is still a prevailing revolutionary ideology. Almost everyone I met here is Pro-Palestine while in DC it seems that every other person I meet works for a Zionist think-tank. Figures who would normally be demonized in the US, such as Hugo Chavez, are idolized here. Every other person is either of Palestinian or Syrian descent, therefore more are condensed into a smaller area of land than the United States thus making the narrative of the oppressed more prevalent throughout this society. It seems to me that no matter how wealthy you are or your family is or how much property you own or how much privilege you have, there is a prevailing sense of revolution and resistance embedded deep in your tissues, your bones, your genetic code.
There is more to life than what you do or how much money you make here. What is important is family, friends, hospitality and preserving and embracing culture. All everyone cares about in DC is how much they are getting paid, how fancy their confusing job titles are, how many networking events (pardon my French but they’re more like circlejerks) they go to and how many different ways they can save the world. And by saving the world I mean invading countries to impose “democracy” and by democracy they just mean voids for Daesh to fill and take control. Either that or create useless nonprofits that don’t really do anything other than add to the whole white savoir vibe of this useless, evil, city.
Everything in DC is so cutthroat, so intense. Not only that, but the city is turning into something that is no longer a city but more so a dystopia. Glass paned “luxury apartments” appear like vermin, drive those who are native to the land into the outskirts of Maryland, Virginia, or on the streets-begging for money from the very people that kicked them out. Police patrol impoverished communities-looking for crime so the “offenders” can rot in DC Jail or get shot in the streets.
Also yuppies-don’t even get me started about yuppies. Unfortunately I am one, but I try not to be. I reside in upper North West, a part of the city that has already been gentrified but the fact that I get to live there still reeks of privilege. When I move to another party of the city, I will make sure to move to an old house-but I don’t know how much that would help. But they are everywhere, using embarrassing words like “brunch” and “the capitol” and talking about their internships. Also stop talking about your internships. No one cares about your internships. I don’t even want to talk about my own internships.
I also don’t miss the red circulator busses and grey metrobuses downtown competing with luxury cars in the hell that is Farragut North between the hours of 9–10 am and 4–7 pm. I don’t miss ever being in the Farragut North vicinity unless I’m protesting outside of the White House. I don’t miss how much it costs for a damn metro ride and there’s no possible way to cheat the system via jumping turnstiles. If DC Metro were anything like New York City subway minus the cops I would be cheating the system everyday. Transportation should be free. It is a human right.
I moved to DC two and a half years ago as an eager 19- year-old ready to leave behind my life in the slow, conservative, Philly suburban town that had been so cruel to me and eager to start my new life studying Journalism in the hub of politics. I slept on the top bunk of my three-person dorm room and spent my Friday nights doing homework, watching Netflix documentaries and eating Fritos I stole from the cafeteria and my Saturday mornings getting up early to go to protests. I still wore my retainer to bed and walked around my residence hall floor wearing an Irish Republican Army T-shirt that a (now former)-lover had given me. I barely drank, would read my syllabi ahead of time and started assignments weeks in advance. I did homework for 10–12 hours a day, had to wear flip-flops in the shower and climb down from my bunk if I ever needed to do so much as get a drink of water -yet I was having the time of my life.
Granted, I realized early on that the idea of American University being a so-called “progressive” institution was a joke. I saw it in the frequent Zionist events held on campus while crumbled posters advertising SJP events laid on the landing of the stairwell. I saw it in the “Ready for Hillary” stickers and posters I would see frequently throughout campus. I was so disgusted and fed up with liberalism at my university. I unregistered myself as Democrat to “unaffiliated” and joined a Communist organization. But I still had hope in the city of DC.
Now whenever I’m in DC I feel desperate to get out. I feel disillusioned of what this city has to offer. I’ve met amazing people here, but there are many people who make me want to shoot myself in the head the second they open their mouth. I recognize that my view of DC and people in DC could be clouded by the slew of personal obstacles and curveballs that threw themselves my way these past months-especially during the Summer of 2016 which was consequently both the best and worst summer of my life.
However, now that I’ve had the time to be as far away from the East Coast I have ever been up to this point in my life, I’ve allowed myself to reflect on the things I miss back home.
I miss the quiet and vibrant neighborhoods of Eckington and Trinidad. I miss the immigrant-owned, cultural restaurants with foods blasting with flavor. I miss burritos, Ethiopian food, Nando’s, and papusas. Oh boy do I miss papusas. I miss the rainy weather that makes the city feel like London even though I’ve never been.
I miss the cylinder rowhomes with their steeples and their pastel color pallets. I miss the trees, open fields of green, green grass integrated within the city. The breweries too-so many breweries. There are so many places where I can get fresh IPAs, where I can feel the bubbles of craft beer cuddle my insides.
I miss how everything is openly pro-gay. I miss how everything is openly pro-marijuana. I miss being able to smell marijuana in the streets. I live for Adams-Morgan turning into something completely different during the weekends and the craziness of U-Street.
I miss hearing go-go music blast on every corner of Shaw. I miss the murals plastered on every other building. Most importantly, I miss that despite being in the belly of the belly of the beast there is a subculture of radical resistance even though it is few and far between. I miss the home that I found with my comrades in the struggle against imperialism, capitalism, racism, misogyny, anti-LGBTQ bigotry. My heart breaks every time I see on facebook or twitter or Instagram a new protest against the horrendous things Donald Trump is doing, knowing that I can’t be there and knowing I’m not contributing to much here.
I miss DC, I miss my beautiful friends and my beautiful comrades. My insides ache and yearn to sip another beer at Right Proper Brewing, eat another Enchilada at Hades’ Restaurant, open another can of Natty Bo in the back yard of someone’s rowhome, enjoy a picnic in Malcom X Park, and fight alongside my comrades in the struggle.
Oh DC how I miss you so, but Amman is where I belong now.