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09 May, 2009

Cap City

Why is it that I always end up living in the capital of whatever place I am in? If you know me, you know that my shiftlessness index is too high for it to be intentional. Childhood in the Virginia capital? My parents' doing. College in the nation's capital? Free tuition and easy access to punk bands. 1990s in the Hawaiian capital? Just wanted to escape the DC = Center of the Universe syndrome, putting as much distance as I could without getting a visa (because not only am I shiftless, I lack gumption). And now Washington's capital? Seeking gainful employment.
And so it is that my life has been spent in capital cities. Honolulu and Richmond were both double-capitals: centers of state government now, with pasts as the seats of a kingdom and a breakaway republic, respectively. For that matter, Honolulu and Olympia were both territorial capitals, if you want to keep score.
I suckled at the federal teat briefly and indirectly, but broke myself of the habit before it transformed me into one of those hapless fiends who commutes for hours every day to and from a cubicle neck-deep in meaningless bullshit, resigned to apparatchikness or conniving to float to the top of the cesspool. Two states have now been kind (or blind) enough to employ me, both times as an archaeologist working on state lands and waters. Both have had the lassitude to allow me the latitude to work on behalf of peoples who arrived millenia before state government. Both have been amenable to men able to think beyond the iron cage of bureaucracy. Both have tolerated me, and enabled my mojourning instincts.
A capital's capital extends beyond the employment opportunities. Culture congregates there, performers and provincials, emissaries and emigres, mosaics and mixing pots. Money flows there, funding opportunities and facilities disproportionate to the population. Education accumulates there, schools and scholars more abundant than many larger and richer cities.
Often, capital cities offer resources of megalopolises, without the accompanying accumulation of irritation. I'll take Olympia traffic and prices over Seattle's any day. Seattle-ites may disdain Oly like Manhattans dis Albanyans, or San Franciscans snub Sacramentos, but that's OK. [In a rare case of the Simpsons being way off of my wavelength, Cap City is to Springfield as Portland is to Salem. Hmm.]
Where next? I'll probably just hang tight until Cascadia gets a capital.

1 comment:

  1. There's a swingin' town I know called... Capital City.

    People stop and scream hello in... Capital City.

    It's the kind of place that makes a bum feel like a king.

    And it makes a king feel like some nutty, cuckoo,super-king.

    It's against the law to frown in... Capital City. You'll caper like a stupid clown when you chance to see...

    Fourth Street and 'D'! Yeah! Once you get a whiff of it, you'll never want to roam.

    Capital City, my home sweet, yeah! Capital City, that happy-tal city, It's Capital City, my home sweet swingin' home!