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Shove over — that’s MY toy

February 29, 2008

Savannah square
I’m headed out of the office next week — taking a little vacation down to Savannah. I’m quite looking forward to the weather and I’m also excited to get out of Washington for a bit. I have lived four places in my life: New Jersey, Paris, Washington DC and the campus of Bryn Mawr College, each of them with its own distinct but decidedly frenetic pace. One would think that I would be used to the hustle and bustle of a northeastern urban environment by now.

Why then, have I found my months in DC exhilarating yes, but also exhausting? What has made this experience distinct from the intense, type-a drive for a degree at Bryn Mawr, or the whirlwind of lights, operas, and foreign language that was Paris? (Only being able to understand 75% of that whirl and not having to work very hard probably contributed to my comfort with the latter.)

I think what is special about DC, and what makes it more draining even than that famous island to its north, is that in this city we are all striving for a similar goal — to make the world a better place. At times it feels like the city is a play pen in which you are trapped until you can achieve this end. There’s nowhere to take refuge from the quest.

Our endeavor is more nuanced than simply making money. There is no end point really; can’t you always make the world a bit better? The route is also filled with characters who, though working towards the same end, have a vision of that end that is diametrically opposed to yours. You can fight against these people, or, as FCNL teaches us, struggle to find a middle ground, to find some space for discussion and compromise with these people. This path, though fruitful, is also more difficult and, frankly, more exhausting. It is much easier to define someone as an enemy than to find the good in everyone.

But, in the end, I suppose this journey that Washingtonians take together is more fulfilling than that of our stock broker neighbors. I won’t be moving to Savannah anytime soon, and hopefully the vacation will give me the break. I hope to return ready to jump into the play pen once more.

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