A Decade in the D.C. Area

Ten years ago today, I moved from Studio City (Los Angeles), California out to Riverdale, Maryland, marking my move back to the east coast after living in Los Angeles for nearly twenty years. It’s hard to believe how quickly ten years zipped by. I spent the first six years in Maryland, and then, four years ago today, moved to Arlington, Virginia when Kelly and I moved in together. After 15 months in Arlington, we bought our house and moved to Falls Church and have been there ever since.

I was glad to leave Los Angeles when I did. I moved to L.A. when I was 11 years old and about to start the sixth grade. It was not a particularly happy move because I was leaving behind the friends I’d made in Warwick, Rhode Island. And back in 1983, way before the Internet, I figured it would be the last time I saw them–and so it was. Over time, Los Angeles proved to be disappointing on several fronts. I learned, of course, of the rich history that the city has, and that was something to be proud of, but I was an east-coaster and I missed the seasons. The weather was a novelty for me for about the first year. I wanted the renewal of spring and the colors of fall. I wanted snow in my winters.

I got that when I moved into the metro-DC area. The first winter was a particularly brutal one, but it made the spring of 2003 all the more spectacular. Since then, we’ve had worse winters and we’ve had almost no winters. My blood has thickened. I no longer think of 50 or 60 degrees as cold. In the spring, once the temperatures reach into the 60s, away go the long pants and out come the shorts.

One big change for me was my commute. In L.A., living in Studio City and working in Santa Monica, I discovered over time that the best way to minimize the stress and strains of traffic was to leave for the office as early as possible. So at 5:10am each weekday morning, I was on the road. It was a 20 mile drive to the office and took 20 minutes so that I’d arrive around 5:30am. Leaving for home at 5pm, I’d arrive on average around 7pm. That kind of commuting changed when I moved back here. During most of my first six years, I never drove my car into the office. I lived about 1-1/2 miles from a train station. I’d catch the train and it took 30 minutes, during which I could read, sleep, listen to music, do anything but drive. I loved it. It got even better when Kelly and I moved to Arlington. Not only was I much closer to the center of things, but I lived only 2 miles from the office. The morning drive took less than 5 minutes and on several occasions during that 15 month period, I walked home from happy hour.

Now, I live 5 miles from the office and my commute is against traffic both ways. Even including the time it takes to drop the Little Man off at school and the Little Miss off at daycare, it still only takes us about 20 minutes total to get into the office in the morning. And about the same going home. Cut that in half when I don’t have to drop off or pick up the kids. I’ve even ridden my bike to work a few times, and while I like the ride into the office, I’m not fond of the ride home. The ride into the office is all downhill.

Sometimes, I miss L.A. in the nostalgic kind of way, but I recognize that at those times, I’m only remembers the things I liked about it. I don’t mind visiting. I don’t mind going back to L.A. for work, so long as it isn’t too frequent, but I like it here in Virginia much better and I’m so glad I made it back to the east coast. Ten years later, it still looks like the best move I’ve ever made.


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