I can't remember when I first started trying to find a city, but it was at some point in college. I hated Atlanta, felt out of place in New Orleans, and found nothing attractive about New York—every city was fun to visit, perhaps, but never enough to move. And as much as I love traveling to foreign countries and experiencing local cultures I'd never said "oh, I want to live here" or felt a sort of cosmic tug at my heartstrings.
The first time I came to DC I had a sort of ineffable sensation that I'd just arrived home. Everything fit.
I know, I know, we're all supposed to haaaate DC because it's sooo establishment and beltway and corrupt and blah blah blah—no. I love DC. I walk these streets and I feel alive and part of something bigger than myself. I adore our idiosyncrasies and even our flaws—watching CSPAN in bars, complaining about the metro, rolling our eyes about how hill interns dress inappropriately, brazenly jogging in congressional campaign t-shirts. After years of feeling like I was perpetually trying to change myself to suit my setting and my friends, I finally found them—my happy family of wonks. A whole small town of them.
My liberal college friends are quietly (and some not so quietly) unfriending me on Facebook. Most of my friends are here now. Many of us communicate almost exclusively by cutting each other off mid-sentence as if we're constantly practicing for our debut on Hardball. There is something thrilling about knowing I can have endless conversations about tax reform or congressional races and nobody will be bored to tears or confused. And we drink a lot.
So then I landed in St. Thomas.
I've been to places like this before. It was a sort of mix between Guyana and Puerto Rico but not anything like either. We got out on the tarmac and piled into a doorless jeep with two locals and sped off. I felt it again. It was that same feeling I had when I first came to DC… and it made no sense. Sure, it's paradise, but why would I want to live here? I love my city. I love my life and my friends and my adult milkshakes at Ted's Bulletin and spin classes with gossipy hill staffers. I don't want to get skin cancer or look like leather when I'm 40. I like having wifi and access to 5 Starbucks in a mile radius. I like seasons.
Nevertheless, I can't change that I had that same sort of clairvoyant feeling that I'm going to live there one day. The astonishing bit is that I felt it as we were driving past roadside chickens and rundown buildings—before Virgin Gorda and beachside bars, before snorkeling or taking a ferry to another island and drinking too much—I felt it from the start. I'm only writing this now so I can look back and know I was right.
I'm not one for major plans. My theory is that if I'm constantly aiming to improve my narrative, my life will be amazing. So far, I've been totally right. But if I had to have a plan, I'd say it's to work in DC for another few years and then move to a place where I can work in a bikini.