Monday, April 21, 2008

This is a great neighborhood

Despite all the complaining I do, and please understand that complaining in my family is a form of recreation, I love my neighborhood. No, really, I do.
From the time I moved in, what made the place great were my neighbors. Well, them and my not-so crappy commute into Old Town Alexandria. I not only knew my next door neighbors, but the people down the block and across the street. I don't know everyone, and I'm fuzzy on names, but there are familiar faces and known characters. These relationships range from the wave 'hi' or polite nod to borrowing tools, eating over, going out to functions (art show/ drinking) and exchanging information/gossip.
Second, I love my current commute. Getting from here to Alexandria took about an hour. Time spent reading books on the metro. Then when I worked up in PG County it went down to 45 minutes. Now, on a good day, 20 minutes from door to desk down in Penn Quarter. The only way to make it better is to work closer, and I don't know if Africare is in need of a librarian. The good think about a very short commute is when you forget something (cell phone, security badge, money) it is possible to just turn around (I refuse to wear the flimsy temp badge of shame) and go back home. Negative, no real valid excuse not to show up at work during bad weather.
In the past few years a few things have popped up in and around the hood that make life better. When I moved here there was no Big Bear, no organic bodega, no Thai carryout, no farmers market, the liquor stores were crap, the dry cleaners was too far, and I had to walk to U Street if I wanted to sit down and eat. Now, I'm a tad spoiled. I know this because when I was more lazy than picky, instead of going to a store 2.5 blocks away for good white wine, I dropped into the liquor store 1.5 blocks away for passable white wine. There's stuff I need to take to the cleaners, and I have no real excuse not to, as it is a two minute walk away. There are other local businesses I go to, that weren't here several years ago, and I appreciate them being around.
The other thing about the small businesses is that are open in and around is that you can get to know the owners/ regular workers. I love going into Catania's on Saturday mornings and chatting with Nichol about France or bread. Or going into the Timor Bodega and hearing Kim talk about the farm fresh produce that just arrived. Or making small talk with the woman who runs the 4th Street Dry Cleaners.
That's some of the good stuff. And now we will get back to my regular scheduled complaining about vacant houses, street characters, cell phone guy, and crime, later. For now, just enjoy the goodness.



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