I'm an avid traveler who suffers greatly from homesickness. While I'm always excited to leave wherever I am for wherever I'm going, there's generally a little piece of me that is sad to say goodbye to my current location. After being gone for a while, I miss it terribly. To make myself feel better about constantly leaving places I love, I tell myself that X city/state/country isn't going anywhere; it will still be there when I get back and, most likely, everything will be just as I left it. For the most part, I have found this to be true. While you're out on the road changing in every way possible, the places you left behind will be exactly as you remember them when you return. To my surprise, this little security blanket-theory got totally blown out of the water upon my return to DC. I made the first trip through the old neighborhood with my jaw on the ground. Nearly everything had changed.
Ok, a bit of clarification is in order. Despite always referring to it in my blog, I don't actually live in DC proper. I live in Arlington, Virginia, which is the suburb just southwest of DC. The two are separated by the Potomac River, and if you are familiar with the area at all, I specifically live in the Courthouse neighborhood. To give you another point of reference, I could walk to Georgetown. I felt that DC was more recognizable to a global audience than Arlington, so I use it as the point of reference for my current location.
That said, when I returned to my apartment (I sublet it since moving to Paris) in Arlington, one of the first things on my to do list was a major trip to Target and the grocery store. Driving up and down the main thoroughfare that connects Courthouse with the other neighborhoods along Metro's Orange Line, I couldn't believe my eyes. Everywhere I looked, buildings that used to be there simply weren't. They were gone, torn down, reduced to piles of rubble. In some cases, construction had already started on their replacements. I'm not exaggerating when I say that nearly every block had at least one structure that had suffered the fate of the wrecking ball. Where was my city? It was not, as I told myself it would be, still there!
The fact that my neighborhood has been all but destroyed in the past nine months was shocking to see, but not surprising that it happened. This area is growing rapidly. Swank new condos and chic commercial districts are springing up to meet the demands of the young professionals and young families who move here to start their careers in the DC area. When I first moved here, you could see the new next to the dilapidated and old. The buildings that were torn down? They were the dilapidated and old ones. Soon, we'll have an entirely shiny, redone community, and I'm excited to see what kinds of amenities that brings. But I'll always mourn the fast food restaurant that met its end only three blocks from my apartment. Walking home from a late night on the town will never be the same again.