DC is a town that takes itself very seriously. Since I take myself very seriously too, I seem to be an ideal fit. The city is teeming with young professionals, who often take that exact attitude and apply it to ever facet of their own lives. Any place with this many yuppies-in-training is bound to be full of health food stores, hand-knitted shawls, and designer eyeglasses. It's tough to know these days where a hipster begins and a yuppie ends, since they both seem to congregate in large cities where the cost of living is quite high.
Those who prefer a casual, laid back town need apply elsewhere. Washingtonians enjoy dressing up and looking thoroughly fashionable. I'm most struck with how many people my age and a few years younger shun contact lenses for the old-style frames. Geek chic seems to be the default these days. It's an intensely cerebral, intellectual city as well, full of university students and the intelligent-in-general. I fit in here much better than home, making me realize again how extreme the brain drain is in Birmingham. Everyone stays for high school, then leaves for sunnier climes. Some stay for college and then move away and never come back. Seeing how much DC has to offer, I understand even better why.