A Place to Call Home

by Kristin Stadum

"Where are you from?" he asks, this friend of a friend.

"Originally or currently?"

He screws up his face.

"Ohio," I say, "but I've lived here for almost a decade. . . . When can I say that I'm from D.C.?"

"Never," says the friend in the middle. "You can never say you're from D.C., not to someone born here."

I screw up my own face and stew for a minute or five. It isn't fair. I chose D.C. I continue to choose D.C. -- this is my home.

Every day, I walk to work past the Library of Congress, the Capitol, the Smithsonian, and I pass the spot where I waited in line to see Rosa Parks lying in honor, the same spot where I met the couple who came decades earlier to hear Dr. King speak at the Lincoln Memorial. It's watching fireworks from those same steps. It's lending beds, couch and floor for the inauguration.

Washington is interns and summer nights on the waterfront. Tourists who stand on the left while locals pass on the right. Taking pictures of strangers on the Mall.

It is baseball at Nationals Park. Screen on the Green. The Millennium Stage. Waiting in line for bluebucks at Market Lunch.

It's homeless people and senators. It's protests, marches and marathons, all snarling traffic. But I don't need to drive. I know the Metro; I'm learning the buses.

Some nights, I mingle with political wonks and schoolteachers, Marines and meteorologists all at the same time, all in the same bar on Capitol Hill. I remember the fires at the Capitol Lounge, Eastern Market and the Georgetown Library. I carry a library card, and I use it. I swim in a free local pool because I can. Because I live here.

"I might be from Ohio, but Washington's home."

Back to Kelly's Commons

By washingtonpost.com editors  |  January 26, 2009; 9:01 AM ET  | Category:  John Kelly's Picks
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This is a fantastic depiction of Washington by a true Washingtonian. I felt the other essays fell far short of satisfying, but this was a great read!! Thanks!!

Posted by: Lea2 | February 27, 2009 9:31 AM

You will always be a visitor.....not a native Washingtonian! I feel your pain...once you're here...there is no other place in the world you'd rather belong to. Sorry.

Posted by: onlyghost | February 27, 2009 9:33 AM

I too was born in Ohio. Toledo to be exact, but I only lived there for a good two months and then we moved to DC. I've lived here all my life, graducated from D.C.P.S., Eastern The Pride of Capitol Hill to be exact. I was here when Doug Williams brought us home the ring and we skipped school to go the parade, I've been here since there used to be projects on the Soutside instead of condos. No I wasn't born in DC, but I can't saying else except I'm from DC.

Posted by: thompsonpt_2005 | February 27, 2009 10:16 AM

Born and raised in DC and I enjoyed this essay!

Posted by: Nick20 | February 27, 2009 12:58 PM

Thompsonpt_2005, you said "Southside" (huh). You must be referring to "Southeast", right? And you're from . . . DC?

Posted by: ecjwlove1 | February 27, 2009 3:54 PM

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