I’ve often joked that I relocated from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to the Upper West Side of D.C. There are abundant similarities: A preponderance of yuppies, quiet streets, the proximity to a large urban park (Central vs. Rock Creek), and the prerequisite indy bookstore. (Thankfully, there are less strollers here. Many, many less.) But when I have to specify where exactly I live is when things start to go awry.
“I live along Connecticut Avenue, north of the zoo,” is what I tell people who don’t live in the D.C. (most of whom have no idea where the zoo is), or who live central enough in the city that they don’t ever venture up Connecticut. (This is very much like the people who never ventured above 14th Street in New York, and who look disdainfully upon you when you mentioned your digs on the UWS.) But then people ask me where and I always sound like an idiot trying to tell them.
I live near the Van Ness Metro station, but there is not actually a part of the city called Van Ness. The zip code for my neighborhood is 20008, which is technically Cleveland Park. But the actual neighborhood of Cleveland Park cuts off at Tilden Street, which is pretty far south from us. I learned today of the existence of North Cleveland Park, which is apparently reaches up from where regular Cleveland Park leaves off, but again, cuts a bit short of where I live, at Abelmarle Street. I live two blocks north, on Brandywine. Thwarted again.
Earlier this year, I was enthused at discovering a small plaque on the fence of the tennis courts across the street, which identified the park as in Forest Hills, D.C. Going onto Wikipedia, I discovered that it was a “quiet and bucolic residential neighborhood in the Northwest quadrant of Washington D.C.” Quiet? Bucolic? Yup, yup! I thought. But alas, that neighborhood apparently begins on the east side of Connecticut Ave., and we live on the west. It’s often “mistakenly” called Van Ness, wiki explains, making me feel a bit more like an idiot for having told people of my faux neighborhood in the past. Perhaps we live in Tenleytown? No that’s the area that’s confined to Tenley Circle, I discovered, and that’s a whole other metro stop away, so that doesn’t make much sense.
So I live in a black hole, a dead zone that’s not quite anywhere (and believe me, the restaurant choices are indicitive of this fact). It is, in fact, known as Cluster 12 according to the Washington D.C. website, and grouped together with Tenleytown, Cleveland Park, and Chevy Chase. We’re stuck in the middle of the three, and nothing more specific could be found anywhere. So yes, that big purple blob is my home.