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A D.C. Housing Horror Story: The Boo Radley Embassy

Introducing the D.C. version of Curbed's Horror Stories wherein we detail the ugly side of living around here. If you have a horror story that goes beyond roommates leaving dishes in the sink, send four hundred words or less for consideration in the series to . Below Tom Acitelli, real estate editor of the New York Observer and former D.C. resident, kicks things off with tales of bugs sprung from the loins of Goliath.

For a few months after our wedding in 2008, my wife and I rented a just-big-enough studio in a building a street over from the Albanian Embassy near Florida and Connecticut. It was a heady time to be in D.C.—hope and change and the audacity of the former and all that—and most days (this was spring and summer before it got
disgustingly humid) were gloriously sunny in that Southern sunshiny
way. We went to the zoo (in walking distance), to all the monuments (walking distance, again!), to Mount Vernon (by public transit!). Everything possible and cloud-parted. Everything except for the embassy.

Not anything against the Albanian people nor Albania (a country I know next to nothing about, save that it was the birthplace of Mother Teresa when it was part of the Ottoman Empire and that the Albanian-Americans in my Brooklyn neighborhood buy up all the Montenegrin wine at the local liquor store before I can). But that roughly triangular Embassy was always dark on the inside. And the doors were always bolted. And it always appeared foreboding, edgy, and uninviting in a cross-to-the-other-side of the street kind of way. And no one was ever coming and going from it. Ever. Even during business hours (I worked out of the house then mostly and would grab lunch around the corner, toward Dupont Circle).

And then there were the water bugs. As large and as visibly sculpted as the day is long, like they were attending some sort of water-bug gym along the walls of the embassy. Crunch—an NYC gym chain—comes to mind. Except that you wouldn't dare crunch these motherfuckers. They and their roach cousins scaled the embassy walls and appeared to possess stand-on-their-hind legs strength. Picture the Rocky statue in front of the Philly art museum writ entomologically. I gave the bugs a wide berth and left the Boo Radley embassy fast alone.

I miss D.C. Its weather (except August), its subway, its beautiful architectural hodgepodge, and other things, if I think about it. I do not miss the embassy.