September 23rd, 2008 – by Emily Benner
I’m up at 8:00 nearly every morning and don’t get home until 6:30. I share a house with 13 other people (and only 2 other guys.) I bike ten miles to and from work every day. I babysit a three year old and a six year old three afternoons a week. I dodge traffic, dodge metro fairs and dodge homework until the last minute.I’m exhausted and exhilarated.
I didn’t have a wash cloth or soap for the first two weeks I was here. I can’t see the floor in my room because my unnamed roommate doesn’t use drawers or a laundry basket. There are two liquor stores within a block of each other near our house. I’m working at an organization trying to clean the 2nd trashiest river in the U.S…and it only has 14 full time employees. We walk under the single, creepiest overpass in the world to get to the metro station.
And it’s sweet.
We never know what time dinner will be in our enormous house: sometimes 6:30, sometimes 9:00. There are five tubs of sour cream in our fridge and seven gallons of milk hardly get us through half a week. Our compost pile almost overflowed the week after we arrived. There were 8 dirty cups perched around my room for more than a week. The kitchen trash goes out almost daily. I never thought I’d live in a house with a complaint box.
But it’s a necessity.
One of my housemates weeds forests and gets school credit for it. Another one saw a clerk fudge the numbers to allow a Spanish-speaking immigrant her citizenship. My roommate worked 15 hours straight and met the archbishop of the Washington, DC diocese. He also got punched in the head on his way home the other day and he never swung back. Even though there are three guys sharing a bathroom with one girl, she hasn’t found the toilet seat up once.
Everyone’s still civil.
It’s 60 degrees out and we still have our air conditioning on. One of my housemates sits on the back porch reading a book, even though I wouldn’t go out without a coat on. There’s a Guitar Hero marathon going on outside my bedroom and four participants are not participating, just watching. We don’t have grass in our back yard, just mulch, the biggest rosemary plant ever, and a tiny fishpond. All nine of our fish have names. There are eight bikes in our back room and only half of them are worth riding.
No one gives a rip.
During rush hour I make it home far faster than any car. It’s fun to give up your seat on the metro. The Barra Brava and their cheers/facepaints/flags are absolutely fantastic. There’s way more free stuff to do here than you ever imagined. 61% of campaign donations in our neighborhood went to Barack Obama. The streets are terrible in D.C. Our neighborhood has a fitness facility free to any DC residents. Even in American’s capital, you don’t have to talk politics.
We’re not in Harrisonburg anymore—and I love it.