October 30, 2011, Washington, DC: Woodley Park and Adams Morgan are next door neighbors separated only by the Duke Ellington bridge that stretches over Rock Creek Park below. The neighborhoods have different personalities, for sure, but in some ways they’re cut from the same cloth of northwest Washington. Still, in January 2008, a move from one to the other was just what I needed.
After a string of bad luck, I moved into a building with a doorman.
Doorman buildings and the highrises that often come with them have never been my thing. I lived in highrises in college, on the 8th and 10th floors of my freshman and sophomore dorms, but not again until I moved to Woodley Park. Instead I typically live low to the ground, often in a home partially occupied by owner. When it comes to renting apartments, it seems I have a type.
That often means I miss out on the amenities that come with large buildings. Highrise living means never having to seek out a missed package delivery. It means access to dense city neighborhoods where a steakhouse or a grocery store might be ten feet out the front door. It means extras, like a gym or parking. Yet I’ve mostly avoided living in large buildings because they make me feel disconnected to what’s happening on the street below. And for some reason, sharing with a doorman just how much I come and go makes me think I need to plan, like I need to organize my outings better, like I need to do it all in one trip.
But in the year and a half prior to my move, I’d been mugged twice in Adams Morgan and got off the bus one afternoon to see my car being stolen off my very own street. I declared it time to get away — even if away meant one mile over the Duke Ellington Bridge.
That explains in part why I so enjoyed living in that Woodley Park apartment. I felt safe. Trumping all other criteria, perhaps it’s a sense of security we need most in a home, however we end up finding it.
We also need great company, and I had that there, too. Between my now-husband and our friends just up the back stairwell and just down the hall, friends throughout that building made me feel safe, too. In more ways than one, it was a return to the dorms.
So we made that place home. We lived on a low floor with some outdoor space on a gravel roof looking into the back of a hotel. Though we weren’t permitted to grill, we were permitted to paint. We gave that square space with parquet floors as much personality as we could muster. We also had enormous closets, something I appreciate now more than ever.
That Woodley Park apartment building holds a special place in my heart, doorman and all.