Thursday, February 13, 2014

Where I lived - 317 C Street SE

317 C Street SE.  Washington DC.

I returned to the states from a year in Nepal with no idea what I wanted to do.  I started blindly applying for jobs in DC thinking I wanted to stay in the non-profit sector and possibly get involved with politics. (ha).  When I did get a job I had nowhere to live and after crashing with friends for a few weeks (thank you Brooke Sikora!) a friend of a friend of an acquaintance who was moving out of her place on Capitol Hill and looking for someone to move into her room asked if I was interested.

317 C Street is, from the outside, adorable.  A row house on a block of row houses each with postage-stamp size front and back yards.  Just off of The Hill, one block from shops and dive bars.  It was less than five minutes to the Supreme Court, the Capitol Building, and Union Station. Walk in the other direction you run into barred windows, burned out buildings and decaying schools within a few blocks.

Wanna see a picture?  Click here.  I'll wait….. It looks ok, right?  See those front steps?  The last time I did acid I spent hours sitting on those steps, staring up into the trees and talking about how the leaves looked like fractals.  Then I spent hours staring down at the patio, talking about how the called leaves looked like baby dinosaurs.  Then I LOST MY EVERLOVING (albeit altered) mind when Jeremy stepped on my baby dinosaurs.

The house provided shelter to a revolving door of interns, staffers, and other political hopefuls.  For the two years that I lived the main cast of characters at 317 were:

Me - just back from overseas, working for a pro-immigration lobbying and policy organization a ten minute walk from the house.  I was so wracked with anxiety about what I was doing with my life that I NEVER ONCE made it from our house to my job without crying and hyperventilating to the point where I had to sit down on the sidewalk and calm myself down.  In heels.  And a Melrose Place-esque suit.

Bodge - A beautiful, blond Duke grad who was working for a democratic rep from California.  She was fantastic.  We liked to live as if we were on The West Wing, all witty banter, one liners and true friendship.  I still miss Bodge.

TCopp - She was one of those people who constantly amazes you.  Loved to party, gregarious and warm in the way that only born and bred Texans can be.  Also, reporter for major wire service who covered wars, had written a book (and has written more since), been embedded in Iraq, and  kept trying to get back together with a douche of an ex-boyfriend.

Kara- lobbyist for the NRA. From the Deep South and fond of wearing thin, tight white t shirts with no bra.  Headlights always on.

Heidi- pathological runner (we're talking 20 miles a day) and overachiever, think tank worker with serious and disturbingly quiet boyfriend who may as well have been the fifth roommate, although he never said ONE WORD to anyone.  She ditched our pathetic asses and headed to Harvard pretty quick.

So basically, picture a house full of smart, ambitious, slightly lost and not, if I do say so myself, unattractive women in their 20s. Trouble. 

Our landlady was absolutely insane - her name was Geraldine and I have a faint memory that she tried to sue us at some point.  She also accused us of kidnapping her dog (an animal that none of us had ever seen and would come to question the existence of).  To say that property upkeep was not her priority would be an understatement. The house was a disaster of mold, rot, electrical misadventures and plumbing catastrophes, each of which went copiously unaddressed. There was an ancient claw-foot tub in the second story bathroom that, one day while no one was home, fell THROUGH the rotted out ceiling and ended up halfway through the kitchen floor on the ground story.  It was still there when I moved out.

Bodge had the basement apartment and in her bathroom was a heating grate above the mirror where she stood doing her hair every morning.  She used to swear she could hear rats scurrying around in the ceiling. One morning her suspicions were confirmed when a rat (a big, nasty, thick-tailed city rat) collapsed the grate and fell onto her head as she was getting ready. I can still hear he screams. 

That house, that year, was wonderful and painful and miserable and amazing all at the same time.  It was an experience that now, as a SAHM in the middle of no where Washington, I wouldn't trade for the world. It was exactly what I should have been doing in my early 20s: fucking up, hooking up, learning what it meant to be a professional, learning about true friendship and heartbreak.  I am so thankful to that house for containing us all, for not doing anyone any permanent physical damage, and I hope that the jars full of milk and raw meat that we left in the heating ducts when we moved out never exploded the way we intended them to because that was a very, very mean thing to do, even to a crazy woman who was trying to put us in jail for stealing her dog. 


Ann Imig said...

This is mind-blowing in multiple places.

Kind of like fractals.

anymommy said...

Love it!!

Anonymous said...

520 3rd St. NE is where I spent my 20s. I was just dreaming about it the other night. Capitol Hill is a place that will take you in, spin you around, blow your mind and then spit you out. It will never leave me - it is seared into me. Glad you posted this and glad I am not the only one. (A from watershed)