Romantic encounters have exposed me to my city in an entirely new way. I’ve ventured to happy hours uptown, apartments downtown, bedrooms in northeast, and showers in southeast. I’ve traveled by car and bus and train. I’ve brunched on shake shack burgers at 10 am, inhaled greasy jumbo slices at 11 pm. Waffles on Sundays, bagels on Mondays. Barhopping and bedhopping and headaches and mucky morning mouths.

It occurred to me the other day that dating is the best way to get familiar with a city. It’s kind of like attaining fluency in a foreign language by becoming romantically involved with a local. Pillow talk has a way of improving one’s vocabulary…

Growing up in my northwest bubble did little to prepare me for the quirks of DC’s remaining quadrants, so the past few years have been particularly eye-opening. When I first moved back after school, I felt like a clueless tourist following my friends onto different modes of public transportation. I was bewildered, but they knew what was up.

Now, in the throes of post-college, single life, I finally feel like I have a sense of DC’s neighborhoods. Cross-city commuting can be viciously stressful when improperly executed, so mastering WMATA is really just a sensible hook-up strategy.

In school, it’s all so easy. Everyone worth kissing is a stone’s throw away. In the real world, the cute guys are often geographically undesirable. But here’s my advice: Ride the bus. Get to know your city. Use a condom.

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