And what if we were … Transplantedsouth?


Getting to Washington D.C. is not what it used to be. Especially if you are Transplantednorth.

I remember as a kid, getting in the car before the crack of dawn, my brother and I clutching pillows and still snug in sweats. We’d watch the sunrise over the New Jersey Turnpike and continue on south on Route 95. We’d have lunch somewhere at a Maryland Welcome rest stop and would arrive at our friends in Maryland, just outside of D.C. by noon. In total, the trip took a little over four hours. Including a stop for lunch.

Not such a direct route when you are driving to Washington D.C. from Western New York. The way ambles through winding roads and Amish country in Pennsylvania, dumps us into sububurban main drags with shopping malls and car dealerships, and winds along both sides of the Susquehana River. Door to door time from Rochester to downtown Washington D.C.: nine hours.

Last month, the family — sans daughter who stayed back in Rochester with a friend to study for finals – went for weekend trip to Washington D.C. to celebrate the Bat Mitzvah (a Jewish girl’s coming-of-age ceremony) of the daughter of some good friends. My husband was excited about being with old friends. I looked forward to reconnecting as well, but at the same time I wanted to have time to show my sons the nation’s capital.

Somewhere on Route 83, I started playing the “what if” game with my husband:

What if we moved to Washington D.C.?

Husband: I can call my contacts at the Deparment of Energy, I’m sure I could get a job down here very easily.

Me: Imagine that! We would be closer to our friends we grew up with and hung out with in grad school!

(but those darned traffic circles…)

Husband: But the traffic! And my commute would be hell!

Me: Yeah, there is such little traffic in Rochester.

(that’s because everyone is moving away because there are no JOBS) 

Me: And I bet there is a bigger chance I’d land a job in PR or writing for a lobbyist or something.

Husband: But you probably would not get a job as a columnist for the Washington Post. And you wouldn’t get recognized in the supermarket with people telling you they love your column.

Me: True. But I’d be able to find a full-time job that makes real money!

Husband: You’d better, because houses are a lot more expensive down here.

Me: And we’d most likely have to pay for private schools.

Oh, but the schools are so GOOD in Brighton.  Worth every penny of our property taxes….

We sat in silence for a while. The boys had their headsets on and were watching a movie – Matilda, I think – on the car DVD player.

But then, I had more things to add to our “what if” fantasy:

Me: It would be WARMER!

Husband: Yes, but it still snows in Washington and they don’t know how to handle the snow.

Me: That is an excellent point, but to be WARM!

Husband: Do you know how hot it gets in D.C. in the summer?

This is true. It was hot already there, and it was only June. And my Northern-blooded children can barely stand when the temperatures are in the 80’s.

Me: But imagine being so close to all the museums in Washington D.C.

All that culture we could give to our children!

Husband: How many times do you think we’d really get to the city? We would probably have to live way out in the suburbs.

Me: This is true.

(He had a good point)

Husband: We would be closer to our family in New York.

Me: We would be closer to our family. And more people would visit us

(because no one visits us Rochester)

The traffic slowed even more. Friday rush hour traffic. And, the US Open was on. The GPS lady cautioned a six mile back up in 1/2 mile, but we were already IN traffic.

 And somewhere in our conversation, the movie must have ended because the boys piped in:

“THERE IS NO WAY WE ARE MOVING AWAY FROM ROCHESTER!”

Rochester, the only home they ever knew.

“You’re right, guys, we’re not moving to Washington D.C. We’re staying in Rochester.” we both said.

But, it is nice to play what if.

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About stacylynngittleman

I have been a public relations professional and reporter -- and always thought I would live in the New York Metro area - before my husband took a job in Rochester, New York. Most in Metro New York can't find Rochester on a map,and neither could I before we moved. I am now a columnist and a freelance writer for Rochester's only daily newspaper, the Democrat & Chronicle. I also am passionate about gardening, fitness and most of all, Jewish education and Israel Advocacy. Here's my perspective on Western New York living - the good, the bad, and the snowy.

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