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Good-bye to U

Oct 8, 2014

Things I never thought I'd do:

1) Live in a basement
2) Live with a family
3) Live in Arlington

And yet, I've decided to move into a room in a basement with some friends of mine and their toddler and infant in Clarendon, the land of dudes in brown flip flops.

I alluded to my move in my last post. It wasn't as bad as the Moving Disasters of 20092010 or 2011 -- my bff came to help me move all the heavy stuff and another friend, K, spent one Saturday afternoon helping me divide my worthless crap things into keep, give away and throw out. (We threw out 15 trash bags worth of stuff and another SUV-load of Goodwill stuff.) And, without any pomp or circumstance, I turned over my keys to a friend, L, who loved my apartment so much she decided to purchase it. It was the first apartment in which I lived alone, the longest place I've lived since moving to DC, and it had, by far, the best closet I could ever hope for in 600 square feet. But even sadder, I left my beloved U Street neighborhood which, after five years, I truly considered home.

So, what's most disturbing about my decision to leave it all behind is that I'm not disturbed. To anyone who doesn't know me well, it appears that I should belong in Clarendon, essentially the cool, clean, respectable clique of DC. But that's so not me. I guess you could say I'm more Elphaba than Glinda, misunderstood but the real heroine, at least in the story of Oz that we misfits know to be the superior version.

Jumping off of that analogy...Clarendon is basically the Emerald City of DC, and U Street is more like the creepy forest where even the trees are angry, but at least you can get organic, locally grown apples.

Well, watch out Dorothy, because Elphaba is acomin', and with her little dog too.

Ridiculous outfit care of her Mimi, who loves to dress up her Granddogter.
So how did I arrive at such a decision that clearly conflicts with my values, however twisted they may be?

Cheap rent, friends who love to cook and a house cleaner.

You see, it's time to pay for the sins of my DC youth, and anyone who moved here in her 20s, independent of her parents' financial support, knows that it's impossible to live the life you see other twentysomethings leading unless you let credit cards fund said lifestyle. The really sad news is that they're all doing the same thing, which is racking up credit card debt. Frankly, I think it's a disservice to twentysomethings, and women in particular, to keep financial talk in the "taboo" column -- along with health problems, career dissatisfaction and it being okay to not follow your dreams for a job that pays your bills.

Trust me, twentysomethings -- if your friends are leading an ab-fab lifestyle that resembles a Pinterest board, they're either in debt up to their eyeballs or they have very generous parents. Don't try to keep up or you'll end up living in the Emerald City in a spacious, renovated farmhouse with a housekeeper.

Wait...that sounds better than it should.

The point is, 'tis better to be able to buy the whole farm than just rent a room.

Well anyway, the plan is to get out of the credit card debt that allowed me to live it up when I really wanted to, and then maybe I'll get to own a little piece of U Street in a couple of years. Even if it is just a treehouse.



  1. What a great point you make, Mary El!! young people pay the price for huge debt for years.

  2. I don't know if this sounds weird, but I AM SO EXCITED you are living in Clarendon. I actually always thought that if I moved out of my condo, I'd like to just live in someone's basement in Clarendon. I don't know much about U St, but I love that Clarendon is both city and suburbs. On one block is Clarendon Blvd and all the shops and bars you could ever need, and the next block over are beautiful houses and parks. So you're livin' my city dream. Best of luck! And hey! We can happy hour and dine together more if I don't live my west coast dream.

  3. That is a really great decision Mary El. I am happy for you. It is hard to cut back on things. I am attempting to get out of debt too, but then I keep spending more money! Best of luck to you!

    Oh, and I just watched that Arlington rap (after reading the article). Hahaha, I love it! It is hilarious. Good choice.

  4. Thanks Emily! I have been working on changing my relationship with money, but it's tough and a work in progress for sure. Being aware is the first step though! Best of luck to you too, my dear.

  5. It does sound weird! :) Haha just kidding. Thanks for the excitement because I need that enthusiasm! Clarendon really is a hybrid neighborhood, and I am quite happy here so far. I fully support your west coast dream, but I'm looking forward to some happy hours with you too!

  6. This millennial generation, which I am right on the edge of, is in some serious trouble with debt. I hope money becomes less of a taboo topic in the coming years.