The Nation’s Capital is known as a place where people come for school, careers in political, military and government service- and where folks work long hours, deal with heavy commutes and seem to have no time or interest in laying down roots and making deeper personal connections. It’s a town where people are seen and want to be seen- with the right people and in the “it” careers. Given this characterization, it’s not uncommon for both old and new Washington residents to wonder if there something unique about DC that attracts this kind of fast paced workaholic or if living here long enough changes people.
Examining what happens here at the holidays gives us clues as to what gives DC its unique culture and attitudes. Beginning in mid-November and lasting through to the New Year, Washington empties out except for the groups of tourists who enjoy visiting at this time of year. The mass exodus at Thanksgiving leaves the roads and transit systems jammed with local residents who are anxious to get “home”, and to reconnect and celebrate with family in a place they feel they truly belong. The Tuesday before turkey day has become the new Wednesday as everyone fears that if they wait too long they won’t make it out due to extreme congestion and some years, bad weather. This is repeated again during the December holidays- as the urgent need to go home overrides the demands of their busy schedules and the difficult logistics required to get away.
The Nation’s Capital is for many a place for passing through- for earning that degree, getting that prestigious internship and/or landing that job working for one of the branches of government- all of which will help them make the right connections and build a resume they can take somewhere else when the time is right and put down roots in a place called home.
No wonder DC feels like such a lonely city, especially at the holidays- everyone’s heart is in a different place, one they call home.