Instructions were to meet at the Green House by noon so that the early arrivals could grab lunch together. I didn’t want to be late on my first day, so, at about 11:40 I arrived on the steps of 331, on the corner of 8th and D, at the green house. I knocked on the door. No answer. I took my glove off and knocked again. Still no answer. Something seemed wrong, to say the least, so I called Tmatt and told him I was waiting outside. He said to knock when I got to the door and that someone would answer. Odd I thought, as I had already knocked twice, but I knocked again. This time, the door opened! Finally I was going to get out of the cold!
To my surprise an older-looking woman in her nightgown unpleasantly asked me what I wanted. She was certainly not the person I had expected, but I told her I was there to see Tmatt for the Washington Journalism Center. By this point, I began to get that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach like I’d made some sort of mistake.
“Who’s that? What’s that?” she grunted. At that point I began feebly apologizing, saying that I must have the wrong green house…
And did I ever. Lesson #1 in Washington: the Green House isn’t
actually green. Green, I would learn is the last name of a woman to
whom the building was dedicated. The door to the Green House is green,
but the house itself is red. As for the address, the number 7 on the
green house with a white door looks remarkably like a 1. However, there
is only one 331 on D street, and that is on the house with a green
Lesson #2 in Washington: people who live two doors down from
each other may never have met, much less had a conversation with one
another. Here is this woman living 10 steps away from a building full
of college students, and she seemed to have no idea what I was talking
about. This is particularly strange to me, seeing how I come from a
neighborhood that watches each other like Gladys watched the Stephens
family in Bewitched.
It was within these first few minutes of my first day that I was forced to realize that Washington, D.C. has it’s own set of rules.