When I was 7, I came up with the theory that everyone in the world has a soulmate city. It might be a city, a town, a building, a body of water or any location where you can be your truest self. It’s a place where you fit. Perfectly. Back then, I thought that mine was Ikea.
So when the Georgetown brochures settled into my mailbox four years ago, I took a minute to stare at the gothic grandeur of Healy Hall and the perfect green lawns and the out-of-place brutalism of Lauinger Library before deciding that this would be mine. I watched movies about a perfect Georgetown and I wondered how I would fit into those buildings, what kind of a person I would be when I fell in love with the Hilltop and found the perfect major and the perfect life plan and the perfect me.
Except that Georgetown didn’t end up being the stuff of brochures or movies or dreams, at all. Those buildings were just buildings; those degrees were just degrees. I never found a perfect plan or a perfect me.
Georgetown, really, is us sliding through O Street last February after that ice storm, gripping picket fences for balance because John Kerry never shovels his damn driveway, dreaming together about our next soulmate cities and the people that we would become there.
Georgetown is us skipping down Prospect, as freshmen do, beaming, screaming Gwen Stefani lyrics in a world that is small and cozy and safe. Georgetown is us peeking into windows at the intersection of 33rd and Q or 34th and N and dreaming of having our own gardens and bookcases and golden retrievers someday.
Georgetown is Wisey’s tuna melts and Lilli Vanillis from MUG, even though we’re already late to class, and kayaking on the Potomac when it gets warm. It’s how things taste better at The Tombs, even if they really don’t. It’s sitting on the waterfront in the spring, trying not to get attacked by birds.
Georgetown is Monday mornings in our apartment before my first class, when the sunlight warms our hardwood floors and everyone shuffles into the kitchen, still too sleepy to be stressed.
Georgetown is us dancing on tables in our living room, screaming Whitney Houston until someone spills wine and we have to run for the Swiffer. Georgetown is when we wake up at the crack of dawn, maybe for First Bake or the cherry blossoms or some sort of trip somewhere, and we meet at the front gates and try to seem alive and wait for the ones who are late and somehow find the energy to laugh.
It’s about the way that your heels clack on the floors of Healy, and the nostalgia that you feel for the things that happened there before you ever existed. It’s the way that Dahlgren Chapel looks for a few days when the leaves change colors in the fall, or before the snow is soiled in the winter, or when the blossoms appear, bloom, explode and then wither in the spring and you find yourself alone there and you just take a moment to stare. It’s the way that campus stands still in a dreamy kind of way after you’ve been awake for too long and your textbooks have sucked the life out of your face and the coffee has made you twitchy, and you stroll through in a trance and you can’t help but really love it for a minute.
Georgetown is the realization that maybe there is no such thing as belonging. Maybe you never really find that elusive thing called “balance” at all — maybe you just learn to expect highs and lows and find people to help you through them. It’s when you stop planning and fitting, and life becomes unpredictable, and there are no puzzle pieces or schedules or balance. Yet there is somehow, in spite of it or because of it, happiness. Belonging.
Once you realize that there’s no such thing as balance or plans or perfect fits, once your major or your dream job or that class that was supposed to be mind-blowing leaves you disappointed, on the days when the castles from those brochures feel gloomy or small, on the days when you can’t focus or move forward or stand still, it is those people, those moments, that move you, anchor you and define you. They are your Georgetown. They are your soulmate city.