When I landed in DC on that hot August day in 2006, I never thought I would leave. Ever. I was a lifer. I was redeemed by the gospel of The West Wing and Aaron Sorkin was my Obi-wan. Okay, that was a lot of metaphors, but you know what I mean. I was all in.
According to Mr. Sorkin there are two reason I would leave Washington, DC. One, move to California and run for Congress as a democrat in Orange County. Two, die. And as someone who was a democrat in Orange County, I can tell you that both options left something to be desired.
So I was in the clear.
Unbeknownst to me and Mr. Sorkin, people leave DC all the time. Like, all the time. During my first year in the city alone I attended three going away parties for people. Three. And that was just the first year! So, you can imagine how many I’ve been to since. That’s right — a lot.
You know what never happened on The West Wing? A going away party! Not one person at The White House knew someone working at the State Department who was moving to a small liberal arts college to be the Dean, or someone that was in the Military, or someone who decided to give it all up to teach yoga in Chile? Not one of them? For that matter, no one ever left the White House? Shenanigans, I say.
I could get all schmaltzy and tell you about how Aaron Sorkin didn’t prepare me for the amazing parties my friends would throw me. Or how on my flight from DC I would watch the State of the Union and sob and the very nice Virgin America flight attendant would bring me tissues. Or how I would miss birthdays, babies, and weddings. But, have you met me? I don’t do schmaltzy.
When I moved to San Francisco from DC, it turned out there were some things about life outside the Beltway that Aaron Sorkin forgot to tell me:
1) Small talk is different.
Guys, real talk: people outside DC don’t care what you do. Or at least it isn’t the first question they ask you. They also don’t care where you went to college, where you are from originally, where you went to grad school, etc. What the heck are you supposed to talk about at parties? I got nothing. I’ve suddenly lost the ability to small talk.
2) Not everyone’s a news junkie.
Did you know that the world outside of DC doesn’t listen to three morning news podcasts — one of which is an Arabic — read The Washington Post, and read DCist all before 10:00am? Not to mention not watching network news all day in the office or refreshing SCOTUSblog every 30 minutes just in case the network guys missed something.
So my first couple of weeks back in the outside world were spent consuming my regular balanced meal of information only to discover that no one else was doing the same. My mention of SCOTUSblog turned into a really weird and confusing conversation about breakfast items with one of my new roommates.
3) No one will care about the lime shortage at a party.
Seriously, there is a global lime shortage and it is going to be a big deal. From chips to margaritas to pad thai, nothing is left untouched. But no one at the party I was at last week wanted to talk about the impact of Mexican drug cartels or Citrus Greening Disease on the supply and demand of limes. I don’t understand why!
So I guess that’s it. Mr. Sorkin is officially off the hook. You know, unless he writes a show about San Francisco.