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Archive for December 10th, 2012

In the dark

One unique challenge to moving at this particular time of year is the ever decreasing hours of daylight. It’s already a bit depressing to begin with when it gets dark so early in the evenings, but being in a brand new place makes it particularly challenging. Being in Washington, DC, makes it almost terrifying.

Probably the biggest concern I had about moving to the Washington metro area was traffic. Not selling my house, not leaving all our friends, both of which stunk. But I had heard nothing but horror stories about daily commutes and seriously wondered if I was ready to commit three hours of my life to being in the car each and every day. Now it’s not always that bad for everybody, but commuting can seriously be brutal. Public transportation is nice, but my work is over a mile away from the nearest stop, so that’s somewhat less convenient. Plus, there is ample parking there, so driving makes sense.

However, driving to work in the morning isn’t as simple as looking on the map, charting a straightforward course, and then jumping into your car. With the huge volume of people in the area and the convoluted nature of the roadways, getting around is not a trivial task for the newbie.

Even seasoned veterans of the area get stuck in traffic and miss their turns. On Friday, I had to make a quick trip over to Virginia for work and was able to catch a ride with someone who lived his entire life in the District. After we were finished, he intended to go over the Memorial Bridge to get us back to the other side. He missed that bridge, and then promptly missed the 395 bridge as well. Soon we were at Reagan National Airport trying to turn around to get back to DC. He was very confused about how he had missed them both.

The sad part? I did this. Exact. Thing. Three weeks ago on my very first day commuting to work in Washington ever. And he’s lived here all his life.

So now you’re telling me I have to find my way to and from work every day in the dark?

I am fortunately able to work flexible hours, so the first week I was able to leave early enough that traffic and the sky were both still light. After a few days, I was able to establish a very basic route that got me between my house and my work. I knew what lanes to be in when, where to turn, and what the general traffic pattern was. At that point, I knew I was okay if I needed to leave after it got dark; with enough vigilance and patience, I knew how to make it home. After that, I have been free to explore a bit, finding little tricks and byways to avoid bad situations or expanding my general knowledge of the area around my workplace. However, if it’s dark before I leave in the evening and traffic is worse, I find it best to stick with my brute force method and just ride it out. Sometimes it’s dark when I leave in the mornings, especially if it’s a grey, rainy day, and that makes the drive in a bit sketchy, too.

I believe a whole blog might be dedicated to the topic of traffic in Washington, DC (and maybe it already has!).  I look forward to kvetching about it in the future from time to time. Just take pride in the fact that by allowing me to vent you’re helping me stay grounded in the midst of the insanity.

The early darkness is no fun at home, either. Bart and I would like to explore the area, but when it’s dark so early we can’t do a lot in the evenings after work. It also shortens the amount of time we have on the weekends to get out of town.

The good news is that the Winter Solstice is just about ten days from now. If I can just make it through to that, it’s all uphill from there! Except for maybe that Mayan apocalypse thing?…

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