The other day I was walking to work and I received a compliment on my shoes while I was waiting at a crosswalk. Now I have to stop for a minute and talk about the shoes (cuz--I love me some shoes).
These beauties came home with me from Idaho, courtesy of my parents as a Christmas gift. I wore my last pair into the ground, so I have loved getting a fresh new pair, with a little flair too! I bleed gold between the University of Washington and the University of Idaho so these were pretty much perfect.
Back to where I was going with this. I get a compliment, I start talking to the guy, find out he has some connections to the grand state of Idaho and we walk and pass some generic conversation (how un-DC right?!?!?). Naturally, after a few questions about the great Best Coast and how much I loved growing up there, I get asked the 2nd most common question I think one gets in DC:
"So what brought you to DC?"
Sigh. Well. What did bring me?
Or is it more important to say what has kept me here?
Now, I have learned you kind of have to judge your audience on this one. Sometimes it is best (and easiest!) to just take the easy exit and say "work". Coming for a job is...adult, professional, driven, and rarely receives a second thought. The next answer, which is my true answer is :" for a guy". Which then always gets: "Oh! Are you two still together?". Well, er...umm....how do I say this...."No. BUT!...." and down the rabbit hole we go with my follow-up stories. Which is a little song and dance about a new boy, a job and the job market being better here.
People don't stay here long. Well not in my age bracket it seems. I feel like my 4.5 years, is a lifetime in DC. I have probably attended more going away happy hours, than I have birthday dinners in my time here. We all have our stories of how we got here. Jobs, love, family, passion for the intrinsic natured jobs, a love of gross swamp-like-kill-you-slowly summer heat (you can sense my enthusiasm). Regardless, it feels kind of like a secret society. You come for work, love, money, fame, glory, or whatever it may be, and you get your head completely rearranged here. Then you spread your little fledgling wings and fly out of the proverbial post-college nest and head (what we can hope for me) westward .
It is like a right of passage.
So while that questions seems to pop up all the time, and almost in an insincere way (similar to the "So what do you do?" question), it is more like the secret handshake for the DC secret society. Or saying the password and seeing if someone knows what you are talking about.
Having your own story to answer that question...it makes you part of this...society or club, or whatever you want to call it. So to the person who complimented my shoes and asked me how I ended up here...thanks for making me realize it wasn't a typical fake DC question...you were just making sure I was initiated.