My DC Holiday Pit Stop

Today is my DC Holiday Pit Stop, a relaxing one-day respite. This year we decided to do the Dreaded Double, the Equitable Split – two Christmases, one with my family, one with his. We just returned last night from Phase One: Florida, and tomorrow depart for Phase Two: Pennsylvania. I know I’m not alone in doing this kind of holiday, and I certainly am happy I’m not traveling with kids or cats or dogs (we saw at least one cat, six dogs, and countless babies in the airports – I don’t know how people do it).

So we’re spending a decadent day lolling around, sleeping the morning away (yes, I slept til a slothful 1pm!), breaking for a sushi lunch at Thai Chef, stopping in for hair products at VSL, writing on my laptop while listening to drum-n-bass, the usual ridiculous urban cliches. All necessary antidotes, and a preparation to leave again.

It’s always fascinating to leave DC for completely different environments. The return feels like a re-entry from outer space or deep sea diving. Neither of which I’ve actually ever done, so as usual I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. But indulge me here in a few comparisons.

The difference between the airport security lines of DCA vs. RSW, for one. At DCA, people go through the security lines with a jaded resignation. Everyone looks slightly tense as they remove their shoes and coats and hand grenades, grumbling at the newbie travelers who whine to the TSA reps about why they have to take off their hoodies and flip-flops. It’s a slow shuffle, a cattle call, a death march.

At RSW (that’s Fort Myers, FL) it’s like a game. Everyone’s cheerful, from the teens joking with the laughing guards, to the TSA rep standing in front of a table of samples of what not to bring in your carry-on, smiling and gesturing like an aged Vanna White. People are practically skipping through the lines. Maybe they really do put soma in the water down there.

Then there’s the dark side to this Floridian cheer, like the airport shuttle driver who told us, “DC sounds like a really nice place, except for all the blacks.” That’s the kind of moment when the blood drains from your face and your stomach heaves.

We met a girl on our way back to DC, who’d moved after years in the city to out west, way out west, rural west. She was a true urbanite who just got sick of all the political bull, the inside-the-beltway mentality, the constant sizing-up at happy hours where “what do you do?” is a come-on line. I understand getting fed up with all that. Certainly after some seventeen years in DC, I’m starting to get the itch to go somewhere else. But it would have to be another city – I don’t think I could ever give up the urban lifestyle.

So, deep breath, don’t get the bends on the way up, it’s almost time to go back underwater. Phase Two, here we come. But back to the city by New Year’s Eve, please.

6 Comments so far

  1. Dan S. (unregistered) on December 27th, 2006 @ 7:49 pm


    I was an urbanite also, born in Philly, resided in LA and San Diego, even ran for a while in Vegas, and all the while I told myself I could never be a rural kind of guy.

    Where am I now? Slugging it out with mother nature in Humboldt County Cali, the weirdest, oddest, most interesting place I have ever lived. I never imagined myself living in a place such as this, dairy farmers in the south, left-over hippies to the north, and yet, after three years, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

    One thing about country livin’ … the pace of life is a bit slower, the people are a tad (hell a LOT) more neighborly, and the local politics, well, let’s just say for all the football games I covered as a sports writer, none were as rough or violent as local politics.

    There’s something about being removed from the hustle, the bustle, the urban life … can’t name it, maybe it comes with not only enjoying mother nature, but smoking her too … hmmm … now there’s a thought … say hello to my fellow Keystone-staters …

  2. Jay Hall (unregistered) on December 28th, 2006 @ 12:06 pm

    Why was this comment made and what did the shuttle driver mean? “DC sounds like a really nice place, except for all the blacks.” Who should live in DC? This shuttle driver should leave if not satisfied with who lives in DC? What’s your thoughts? Jay

  3. phil (unregistered) on December 28th, 2006 @ 1:13 pm

    Tampa Florida
    28 December, 2006

    Well, I live in Florida and they are many Black folks living in Florida perhaps not in the affluent areas like Fort Meyers and the areas around that airport….but
    those wealthy folks sure like their hotel rooms to be cleaned, pools to be cleaned etc. but after they do their work for the wealthy…they take the bus out back to their homes. Well, as Jeb Bush says in private, ” the poor have too much and the Rich don’t have enough”

  4. Brian (unregistered) on December 29th, 2006 @ 3:05 pm

    Ummm… Phil, have you been to Fort Myers? Specifically, have you been to MLK Blvd or Michigan Ave in Fort Myers? That area is anything but affluent.

    And if you’re trying to make an argument that the rich whites here exploit cheap black laborors, you’re sorely mistaken. The cheap workers are exploited illegal mexicans. The blacks just don’t work at all. But both demographics sure do love to suckle on the nipple of government hand-outs! And the mexicans don’t ride the busses. They can pack a good 10 or 15 of themselves into the cab of a 1977 Chevy pickup.

    I ask you this question. How can you not be a little bitter? How can you not be bitter when you, as a hard worker, have to fork over a large portion of your income to directly benefit people who are lazy or who are here illegally?

  5. Brian (unregistered) on December 29th, 2006 @ 3:08 pm


    The shuttle driver was in Fort Myers, not in DC. Blacks in DC are a different culture than blacks in the south. Blacks in DC actually have jobs.

  6. Don (unregistered) on December 29th, 2006 @ 3:19 pm

    Wow, it’s a race to the bottom in this thread, isn’t it?

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