My Dream City Neighborhood
Updated: Feb 7
Last night, I went to go see The Gentlemen on a date with myself. ((The movie was pretty great but I do predict that it will be a lot of bland guys' personalities for the next four months)). As I was walking back, I was celebrating the fact that I'm young, I live in a city, and everything is in my grasp. This is it, kid! You made it, I thought as I turned the corner to my street.
On the uphill sidewalk that lays in front of my house, about seven or so rats scurried back and forth from the bushes to the trashcans on the street side. Being one of my worst fears, I barely processed them before I burst into tears. I called my little sister in Indiana, hyperventilated on the phone to her, considered calling a taxi and maxing out my credit card to stay in a hotel because clearly I have no home now.
I finally called my roommate just to open up the door, creating the illusion that nothing could get to me if I just ran across the road real fast and straight into the house. It was stupid but amazingly, the only time I've cried so far during my move to D.C., a city I have a deep appreciation for but leaves me wanting.
So if I could construct my dream city block, this is what it would be.
Welcome to Magpie Heights, conveniently located in between the burgeoning arts district with a hip nightlife (and far away enough you get none of the noise or drunk bachelorette parties stumbling to the next bar crawl destination) and the historical neighborhood home to minority and immigrant families that is immune to gentrification because it doesn't exist in my little utopia!
You can find my little studio apartment located high enough from the ground above the secondhand book store, that is whimsical enough to pass hours browsing in but not aesthetically pleasing enough to attract Instagram influencers. It's sandwiched between a bahn mí shop and a Jewish deli, so yes, it is literally sandwiched.
Across the street, one can purchase all their imported cheese-related needs at Discount Imported Cheese But Like Not For Suspicious Reasons We Just Believe In The Accessibility of French Fromage. Hop on over to grab a fresh juice smoothie at the shop where the only options are yummy and not fermented dirt, and no one is judging you when you make a panic choice. In fact, there are no panic choices in Magpie Heights and all service workers are trained to make you feel comfortable enough not to stress sweat while trying to put your money away after making a purchase. Take your time, girl!
Don't worry, fashion-lovers! Find beautiful garments in the flagship stores of every designer from Netflix's Next in Fashion, and then actually get coffee with the designers at the fair-trade café next door! Minju will help you refine your feminine look with a bold new shape. You didn't ask her to but she knew, she just knew.
Head down to the local library that has every book you want in your own display section. When you go to check out, the librarian will slip you the bodice-ripper romance you're always too embarrassed to get, with a little nod. She'll keep your secret and will waive the first fifteen late fees and then all subsequent late fees after that. President Lizzie W. enacted her tax on the wealthy so thanks, Jeff Bezos, for covering the $3.50 from my latest serial killer biography.
If you feel like culture, head over to the community art museum, where the pieces are made by local artists who are paid generously for their work! They even do free courses for children in the summertime. If you want a play, go around the corner to the Theatre, where the first cast of Hamilton puts on nightly performances, interspersed with Les Mis and Mamma Mia!. That's it. That's all they do. That's all there is here. And everyone loves it.
Next to the boutique that just sells quality but cheap Anthropologie clothes that fell off the back of the van, the tattoo artist who reimagines drawings made by kid designers, and the hair shop that requires every stylist has to be able to do all kind of textured hair is the movie theatre. Based in an old-school historic building with gorgeous antique red velvet chairs that are also actually recliners?!, this theater only plays While You Were Sleeping, Mad Max, Return To Me, and The Spy that Dumped Me on repeat. And on Sundays, of course, it's back to back showing of 2003 Pride and Prejudice in which hand-knitted blankets and calorie-free butter popcorn is included, and encouraged.
Everyone recycles, everyone contributes to the shop-local Saturdays, and everyone uses the community garden. I mean, you don't, because like what do you even do there? But you love the idea of it, so it's there in case you ever grow a green thumb (you don't). Housing is affordable for every income bracket and even your Midwest parents like to visit! There's a "it takes a village" mindset for every child, person with special needs, and the elderly AND EVERY ENTRANCE HAS A WHEELCHAIR RAMP AND AUTOMATIC BUTTON TO OPEN THE DOORS FOR EVERYONE.
Dogs can walk without leashes but they can't wear sweaters because we all agree that's gross. Foster families, single parent houses, and military families are given special perks and if you raise your voice at your waitress, you're kindly provided an Uber to get the hell out. There's a direct bus to the airport, a trolley system where you can jump on and off like you're in the roaring 20s and you're about to achieve your dreams!, and Lizzo is playing at Pride this year! And the year after that! And the year after that!
And one day, you'll be sitting in the Golden Girls Memorial Public Park sipping on a boba tea after a cycling class that you didn't fart once in. You'll be people-watching the families of every shape, size, color, faith, and opinion on Rihanna's latest album enjoy their required home/life balance time in this neighborhood you love so much and you realize...
You've never seen a man urinating in a public place. You've never stepped on gum or glass on the sidewalk. You've never had to jog to go through a door some weird polite person preemptively opened way too early for you. And most importantly, you've never, not once, seen a rat.
That's because they mysteriously became attracted to every Trump Tower or Kushner holding in the world and they live there now.