'A Canvas Painted With Different Shades'

by Candace Tyler

Being a Washingtonian is about wrapping yourself in a cultural quilt so diverse it blankets continents from South America to Africa, indulging in scents and colors foreign to you, and realizing that Washington is a canvas painted with the different shades of the world, not just red, white and blue. I learned early in life that it was a unique privilege to be able to consider such a place home.

I can remember walking down U Street and being surrounded by antiquarian book sellers and authentic cultural shops like Sister Space. Rummaging through vintage clothing boutiques and stopping in Ben's Chili Bowl for a chili cheese dog before hoping on the S bus to head home. Watching 16th street blur through the bus window; I gave thanks to live in Washington. I also remember hearing the news that Childe Harold closed its doors for the last time, tears filled my eyes as I said silent prayers that the same thing wouldn't happen to Kramer's. My love for Washington has weathered the storm of gentrification, terrorist attacks and over priced condos.

I have lived all over the United States and would not, could not consider another city home.

Before my family moved to DC we would visit every weekend, we lived in Atlanta, Georgia, but DC was always home for my father. He is a native Washingtonian and refused to give up on Washington, even when the crime rates rose so high, many people were afraid to visit. As a child I didn't believe that people could live in Washington; I thought it was a place that people just came to for the day, like an amusement park city. Looking back I think it was because I looked at DC as some sort cultural wonderland. A place filled with curiosities, interesting people and endless possibilities.

By washingtonpost.com editors  |  January 26, 2009; 9:00 AM ET  | Category:  Reader Submission
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