I moved to D.C. three years ago with the burning desire to get away from the cold. Having spent the previous two years in Minneapolis dealing with seasonal depression, or in this case year-long depression, I pretty much just wanted a happier climate. In a town known for politics and lawyers, I wasn’t sure how this move would fare for me as a theatre artist, but in the capitol of non-profits I figured I might as well give it a shot.
As it turns out, living in Washington, D.C. during the Obama era is pretty great. While we aren’t completely unscathed by the downturn, the local economy remains in good condition, certainly better than most. Like most cities, we are young, but also smart, well educated, and very ambitious. That’s not to say people in other cities aren’t, but you don’t move to the nation’s capitol to discover yourself, you go to achieve something, become something, pursue something. You don’t come to D.C. with a pipe dream and a guitar, you come with a master’s degree and the readiness to fight tooth and nail for what you want. If you don’t already know what you want – exactly what you want – you’ve lost the game already. This town is about power and about making a name for yourself.
That being said, what makes D.C. most remarkable to me is that in many ways it still remains a small accessible city, which means that to some of us here, the American Dream actually seems achievable. I’m constantly surprised at the level of access I’m granted to the local scene and players simply by living here. I’ve crossed paths with politicians and diplomats, and met President Obama last year when I was invited to play an angel at one of the White House Christmas soirees. I’ve crashed hipster music parties, been invited to after-hours museum events, performed at Constitution Hall for five thousand people, and danced around on a float in the gay pride parade.
I don’t write this to make myself sound in-the-know or special, it’s exactly the opposite. I’m usually out of the loop and I’m a pretty big dork. This actually seems to be a pretty typical D.C. experience, especially if you are in the arts. In a world full of lobbyists, anyone with a personality and a bit of sparkle is truly appreciated. While I’m not cool enough, rich enough, or pretty enough to be competitive in cities like New York or LA, in D.C. I find myself seeing and doing some truly fascinating stuff. In a city where the North and South clash together and the population hails from all around the world, there is real opportunity for unexpected fun and misadventure.