Dear Washington D.C. Class of 2011:
Wow. It has been an interesting four years. Congratulations on making it to graduation!
Back when you started in fall 2007, I was just moving to D.C. myself. George Dubya was in the White House, Adrian Fenty was mayor, and a Target run required leaving the city. Michael Jackson was still alive, and everyone was humming “Hey There Delilah.” (And what was on TV? Oh, yeah, lots of re-runs thanks to the writers’ strike.)
It took you a while to find your way around. You missed Metro stops, got lost on circles and mispronounced L’Enfant. But then you figured out the bus system, signed up for a Zipcar and bought comfortable shoes.
You remember the day someone stopped and asked you for directions because you looked like a real DCist and not a clueless tourist.
And that meant bowling at Lucky Strike, going to concerts at the 9:30 Club and walking the monuments after midnight. Your Freshman 15 came from s’mores at Cosi, half-smokes at Ben’s Chili Bowl and Jumbo Slice at 3 a.m.
You couldn’t wait to hang out at McFadden’s (or the Tombs, Love, Cornerstone, Chadwicks or wherever). Then you celebrated your 21st birthday there. Then you realized you were getting too old to hang out there. But you will return sometime this month to relive the memories.
Memories of Silly Bandz, World Cup games in the middle of the night and the iPad announcement. GChatting during class, Skyping while abroad, snagging a Facebook username and debating getting on Twitter. Internships on the Hill, red badges and that interns blog. Lady Gaga, Ke$ha and Justin Bieber. Bus trips to New York and roadtrips to Ocean City.
And in a city obsessed with politics, you were here when thousands gathered outside the White House on Election Night in 2008. You nearly froze standing along the inauguration parade route in 2009. You let your high school friends crash at your place during the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in 2010. You went back to the White House when Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011.
And now you are headed into the real world. The job market isn’t quite as bad as two years ago, but everyone still fears that they will never find employment — or that even law school won’t pay off.
Maybe you will go back home. Maybe to a bigger city. Maybe overseas. Or maybe you will stay right here in the District.
Whatever you do, wherever you end up, good luck.