Politics brought me to Washington, DC. As I have told countless people, and National Public Radio (story here), I worked on my first campaign when I was eight. I went door-to-door for a local NY Assemblyman who was running for Congress. On election night, we went to the campaign headquarters to watch the results come in. When the areas I canvassed had a huge turnout for my candidate, I thought it was because of my hard work (Who can resist a cute, little girl with red hair and freckles? The mean woman at the end of the street with the mean and large German Shepard, that’s who. She had her dog chase me from her property.) and was hooked.
My first job after college was on Capitol Hill — for Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca). I have lived here most of my time in Washington, DC. I am obsessed with Congress and the legislative process. Will always believe that the Senate is like grad school where the House is kindergarten. And if you have never gotten into watching C-Span coverage of the House of Representatives, well, it can be like a good tennis match. Rafa Nadal v. Roger Federer good.
Life on the Hill has been a great experience. This is like a small town in a, well, my frame of reference is New York so, in a small city. People here really look out for each other. Case in point, back when I had a landline, I returned from work to get the following messages:
- This is your neighborhood watch, we think we saw some suspicious people outside of your place. Please be careful when you come home.
- There are definitely two people outside your apartment and we think there may be a third in the bushes.
- We went by again and there are the three people – it looks like they are waiting to rob you, or anyone else, when you get home. We’re calling the police to report it.
- We called the police and they chased everyone away from your place. They are also keeping a car on the block for the next few hours so you should be fine coming in. Hope you have a nice night.
I remain relieved that I didn’t get home at anytime before message number four and it could be my inherent, dark personality but that whole exchange left me feeling like my neighbors had my back. Another time, right after I was mugged, one of my neighbors (this happened right in front of my apartment) made it a point to keep his pitbull, “Precious,” outside in his yard around the time when I usually came home. People would cross the street to not walk by that dog.
The community feel extends beyond my safety, of course. When the best dive in the world, the Tune Inn, had a fire last summer, a bunch of us came out and helped clean the place. We painstakingly took each item from the walls and cleaned it. Yes, I enjoy my Jameson and like to have it there but that’s not what inspired me to help out. This really does feel like a community and it was heartwarming to see so many people come out to help each other, that is the point of things, right? If you go in, make sure you look at the Guy Fieri plaque in the front window. Then look at the plaque just below it. You may notice a familiar name. (Thank you, Lisa and Thomas. I feel like I will always be a part of the Hill.)
So, from the feeling that my drinking water is infused with political knowledge to the fabric of neighbors helping each other and looking out for each other that makes this such a special place. I make a point to be as impressed as possible when I look up at the Capitol Building because it is a beautiful thing. This place brings out the Mr. Smith in me (I know you know this but I am referring to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington).
So, it was not without a heavy heart that I am moving from this magical place on the hill. I need a change of scenery for personal reasons that I am sure I will explain in excruciating detail at some point and hope this will force me to do the big things I want to do this year but I love this place and the people who inhabit it.
Thank you, Capitol Hill. I am not leaving, I am just going part-time!