Long Rant About Northern Virginia…Plus, a Little Something About Clarendon
I hail from Maryland. I like Maryland. I get Maryland. Maryland makes sense to me.
I don't get Virginia. Virginia is crazy. The broad boulevards make me mad. I'm looking for something, and I miss it. I have to turn around. I lose 15 minutes. I'm trying to find a restaurant, but there's construction blocking the main road leading into the neighborhood. I look for an alternate route. There is no alternate route. I am lost. I am frustrated. I lose 20 minutes.
Sometimes, Virginia's just not worth it. Actually, a lot of the time, Virginia's just not worth it.
It's too bad I don't get more excited. Some people think it's pretty spectacular that one can visit three—THREE!—local jurisdictions living in the D.C. area. A few summers ago, a friend of mine from Texas came to visit me. We were driving around—heading, I think, to Old Town Alexandria—and so naturally we crossed into Virginia. A few minutes after, I said 'Oh, we're in Virginia now.' She was incredulous. Virginia! Just like that huh? Maryland. BAM. D.C. BAM. Virginia. BAM. Easy breezy.
In Texas, when you leave, you are fully aware. There are more signs. There is a big star by the border. You want to leave me? Texas seems to say. Fine. But, you'll be sorry.
Here, though, it's easy to slip from one place to another, and yet, I probably go to Virginia once every other month. Like I said, it's too much work. I feel like this thinking extends beyond me.
A little over a year ago, I worked at an office with some Virginia folks and some Maryland folks. The Virginia people thought Maryland was a confusing and dull place. The Maryland folks thought that Virginia was just ridiculous.
Which brings me to my point. Really, why is Clarendon sooooOOOOooooo great? Last week, the American Planning Association named Clarendon and Wilson Boulevards one of their "Great Places in America." Today, the Washington Post has printed a love letter to Clarendon:
They are icons of America, from California to New York, streets that evoke the nation's history, politics and style: Pennsylvania Avenue, Wall Street, Beale Street, Hollywood Boulevard.
To that list, add Clarendon and Wilson boulevards.
Okay, pause here. Blegh. Give me a break. Alright, let's continue with the Post story:
In the days since officials from the American Planning Association announced a Top 11 list of Great Streets in America — which included the Arlington pair and nine others from Tempe, Ariz., in the west to Portland, Maine, in the east — a long-running neighborhood conversation has swirled anew in Clarendon, centered on a couple of basic questions: What makes the area, which could have evolved into a lifeless outpost, cool? And what can be done to keep it that way?
Really, is it that special? I've been to Clarendon. It's nice. Nice restaurants. Nice walkability. Nice Barnes & Noble. It was a very livable neighborhood, no doubt about it. But, please explain the unique charm, the je ne sais quoi, because I still don't get it.
God, people from Maryland are so thick, right?