I have Potomac Fever, not to be confused with Potomac Horse Fever, a deadly disease spread by mayflies. Rather, I have become enamored with the District of Columbia, or as I like to call it, simply ‘The District.’ DC has so much to offer young people: for the thirsty, there’s happy hour; for the hungry, there’s brunch; and for the politically concerned, there’s no better place to be. It’s not uncommon to be walking up the escalator from the metro (staying to the left, as I learned on my first day) and overhear a conversation about topics ranging from the coup in Egypt to the tragic death of Trayvon Martin to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act mark-up in the Senate HELP committee to the overturn of the Defense of Marriage Act in the Supreme Court. This is a city where things happen, but more importantly, this is a city where people make things happen.
This summer, I was lucky enough to spend time exploring this city: I lived in Northwest D.C. and interned in Northeast D.C. Being from New York and knowing how to navigate that city pretty effectively, DC confused me with its quadrants and letters and multi-syllabic words by which one is supposed to measure distance. With the Capitol building at its center (but really more towards the lower right of the city), the quadrants are uneven and the street numbers begin again and that should be enough to make your head spin.
Now with this summer a couple of weeks behind me, I have the chance to reflect on just how much Potomac Fever actually affected me and just how privileged I was to have the opportunity to experience it.
- I got to work at a small nonprofit (with one paid staff member), where all of the work I did mattered;
- I got to stand outside of the Supreme Court the day DOMA was overturned;
- I saw a city rise up in anger and solidarity after the Trayvon Martin case;
- I figured out the Metro system and saw a lot of the city with my feet;
- I went to a record number of museums because Smithsonians are awesome and free;
- I traveled short distances to New York and Delaware and Philadelphia. Location, location, location.
The District is an incredible place to spend a summer, and I’m highly considering making it the place where I spend the first part of my adult life.
Mil Dranoff is a rising senior at Washington University in St. Louis, studying Political Science and Jewish, Islamic and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. She is originally from Suffern, New York and belongs to Temple Beth El in Spring Valley.