Living in Northern Virginia, though it may be a suburb, life revolves around the happenings of the Nation's Capital. Growing up, many of my friends' parents were government employees. They'd drop their kids off at school in the morning and head to the nearest Metro stop, only to become apart of the morning commute and then the average workday in one of the busiest cities in the nation, if not the world.
The partial shutdown of our government has brought many abnormalities to the region where I grew up. In this area, the shutdown doesn't just affect one thing but is, in fact, a part of a chain reaction that affects everything and everyone. Neighbors who try to pass the time away until they can hopefully return to the office can be seen aimlessly shoveling their driveways or working in their garages. Traffic, which is normally unbearable in the area, has become much lighter during the usual rush hours. On an average day in Northern Virginia, between 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., or 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Route 66 and the Beltway is where you go to feel like you want to explode. But since the shutdown, trips that would normally take 40 minutes suddenly take 20, making even the driving in the area a constant reminder of those who aren't commuting, and who aren't getting paid.
The biggest newsflash, however, comes from none other than a trip into the Nation's Capital itself. Being home on winter break from college, the first thing I wanted to do was go into the city with my friends. Seeing buildings with dark windows and "We're Closed" signs came as a shock to me, as I am someone who is used to the usual bright and busy atmosphere that makes the city, not just bustling, but feel alive. The National Zoo was closed. The Smithsonian Museums were closed. The National Parks were closed. It felt as if the entire city had gone into hibernation.
But what's scariest about the government shutdown isn't that it's brought change to D.C, Northern Virginia, and beyond, but that there is no way to predict when it will end. If the city truly has gone into hibernation, all we can do is hope for a feeling of certainty that sometime soon it will wake up.