I fall in love a little bit with everywhere I go. In Burlington, I romanticized Church Street, and recalled lines of Cold Pastoral while overlooking the lake, listening to woodsy music and thinking about how the city is overpopulated and filled with Jeeps in traffic for a reason. In Manhattan, I romanticized the beaten subway steps and the feeling when you step out of Grand Central to crystalline buildings bigger than the sky.
And it’s usually the idea of the place that I fall in love with. Wearing my Free People dresses and Frye boots while flitting from gastropubs to late-night coffeehouses with my liberal friends that like skiing and Beat poetry; that was the Burlington idea. But so far Burlington has just been the overwhelming taste (not even smell) of marijuana mixed with cold nights and the gross feet scent that emits from many a ripped Birkenstock. I have to search for diversity. I have to search for people who actually want to talk about real stuff and not just their “I wish I was born in the 1960s and went to Woodstock” narratives. Because a lot of Burlington people want to save the world, but how are they supposed to do that from all the way up here? They are drifting.
I don’t have to like Burlington. I don’t have to wake up in the morning and tell myself to give it a chance, give it a semester, give it two. I’m not proud of my school, I’m not happy here. I owe no one my do’s or do nots. This is simply the way it is.
Last Tuesday night, the cheapest deal on a flight was Burlington to Dulles. I felt like Amanda Bynes in What a Girl Wants, leaving with no notice besides a voicemail left for her mother in their fifth-floor walk up in Chinatown. And I kind of was. I told my mom I was leaving only the night before, when I was dehydrated and exhausted from trying to work out at the gym. She took it well, surprisingly, and the next day, I was off. A beautiful ruby blended into a Syracuse orange against the backdrop of the Green Mountains, and it almost made me love Burlington. Maybe if I lived in a cloud.
The drive on 495 into the city was amazing, especially with everything lit up on a Friday night. After a failed attempt at entering my Bloomingdale Airbnb, I ended up freaked out and uncomfortable in the The Melrose Georgetown Hotel in Foggy Bottom. They took pity on me and gave me a discounted room and I have never been more thankful. I fell asleep with a terrycloth robe on at two a.m., a huge print of George Washington above my headboard. I woke up significantly less terrified and walked down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. It was exactly as I had seen it in Iron Jawed Angels, My Date With the President’s Daughter (seeing the Lincoln Memorial was really cool for me), and all of the American history non-fiction picture books I took out from the library when I was ten.
I realized how much I missed the fast paced life of cities, even in Connecticut. My small hometown was busier than Burlington could ever be. Everyone here was wearing business casual getups with sensible shoes, hopping on the G2 heading east or walking straight down 16th street without looking up from their phone once. And nobody smiled at you walking down the street. It was like New York, except dotted with mock duomos and rotundas and many more embassies.
“People thought that New Yorkers were rude, but really they were just leaving you to your own stuff. It was respectful! In a city with so many people, a New Yorker would always pretend not to see you when you didn’t want to be seen,” (Modern Lovers, Emma Straub)
I saw Georgetown at night surrounded by frat boys and drunk girls and policemen pedaling very fast on bicycles. The Georgetown grad in my Uber took my compliment of “Georgetown is like Yale on steroids” with sincere thanks because he was waitlisted there. The neighborhood of Georgetown is like Boston and Brooklyn getting married and having a more suburban baby. I was surrounded by cute babies in expensive clothing and attractive couples on walking dates.
I swam in the George Washington University Mount Vernon campus’ pool and saw another vibrant sunset rivaling the neon string piece at the Renwick gallery. I was shoved, sweaty, with Pear vodka into a residence hall basement kitchen with guys who played the entirety of Coloring Book. I was shoved into the Vex with the same people to walk and jump and scream down the street to the crepe place that doesn’t close until 4 a.m. I was shoved into realizing what I wanted my college experience to be like, surrounded by future politicians and current ones and not being able to see the sun because of tall buildings and living in a place where everyone is a leader, where leadership is cool, where I could experience so many different things in one day.
Longing for the corner of 16th and Corcoran has already kicked in. I miss the Gregorian chant. I miss my mildly attractive Airbnb man. I miss all of the windows open with city noise coming from five stories below. It sounds dramatic, but I miss being excited to wake up.