If you live in the Washington, DC area long enough, you’re likely to hear about the city of Waldorf, Md. Waldorf is the biggest city in Charles County, Maryland, located directly south of Prince George’s County, Maryland, also know as the place that most of the people you know who claim to be from DC really hail from, even if they’re “really from southeast.” The rest are actually from Silver Spring or even actually from the city.
When I moved to Washington, DC in 2001 (I actually lived in PG County until 2005 and have lived in the city since then—always on the Soul Train aka the Green line), I’d not heard of Waldorf. I mean, sure, it might pop up on a television ad for some furniture outlet but it didn’t mean anything to me. In fact, it wasn’t until 2012, when I moved to Southeast DC and my then 3-year-old daughter was enrolled in a Swim First swimming program in Waldorf that I ever ventured that far south. I’d only heard of Brandywine, Md. once (you drive through there on the way to Waldorf if you take Branch Ave/Rte 5) but, if it was south of Allentown Road, it might as well have been North Carolina.
But to Waldorf I’d roll every weekend for her swimming class, and each time I’d make that run, I’d utter the words, “Man, Waldorf is far.” See, that’s a bit of a running joke in the DC area, especially amongst the black community. You can find T-shirts that refer to Waldorf Airlines, memes about how far away Waldorf is, largely centering on everybody opting out of going somewhere if it’s in Waldorf. Even comedian McKenton Russell has a YouTube short film called The Journey to Waldorf where he and the homies travel all day trying to get to a party in Waldorf, facing wildlife and all sorts of shenanigans. The video itself is made even more funny because the whole shit was filmed in Los Angeles. Brandywine, Md. (roughly the halfway point) is shot in the desert. That’s how we feel about Waldorf ‘round here. I imagine the video where buddy coined the phrase Super Maryland was in honor of Waldorf.
But you know, part of me feels like Waldorf gets a bad rap. Sure, if you tell me some shit is in Waldorf, I am highly likely to find any reason not to go possible. It’s true. Driving there feels like a long-distance trip for some reason. You literally drive out of city-like conditions into the open air, passing signs that allude to farmland and shit. I’ve always felt like the reason they put a Chik-fil-A right before you hit the Waldorf/Charles County line is to award you for making it that far. Even if Waldorf has everything you could possibly need in one city, it’s still … far.
But is it really? This is a good question. I’ve had arguments with people about whether or not it even constitutes a suburb of DC. And until they built this huge mega-shopping center in Brandywine, I think the argument had debatable merit. Same with driving down 210 where its just nothing (save for like 15 different roads all named Livingston Road) until you hit that left turn into more nothing until you hit Waldorf an hour later. So is it far? Let’s examine this.
First off, what is far? Far is a state of mind. And I think it’s highly dependent on where you live. I’ve been to Los Angeles plenty of times and shit all seems far but that’s just life in LA. A 30-minute ride is expected, an hour is not out of the ordinary. Same with Atlanta. I’m an Adamsville, Zone 4, westside of Atlanta fellow. Stone Mountain? That’s the WHOLE other side of the world but I’d make that 30 to 45 minute drive regularly in college to see the homies. Shit, way back when it existed, I worked at MCI selling you shitty long-distance phone packages up in Alpharetta, Ga., which is definitely a suburb of Atlanta; it’s where Bobby Brown and ‘nem lived way back then.
DC, though, is a little different. When people used to talk about the DC-area, and specifically black folks, they were talking about DC-proper and PG County. I remember how much shade the Montgomery County folks got, and that shit is literally across the DC line in part of the northeastern and all of the northwestern part of the city. And Virginia? Sheeeeeit. That didn’t even count. Times they are a changin’ though and the DMV is a thing so folks out in Reston and Woodbridge get to be part of the area now. That, I think is the mainargument for why Waldorf is a suburb of DC. So many people moved down there, it’s basically the new PG County because of the more affordable housing and allegedly decent school system.
But far? Let’s get to that.
According to Google Maps, Waldorf is 28.8 miles from the U.S. Capitol Building. That’s not the geographical center of the city, but it will do for now. Gaithersburg, Md., something that I think is a suburb but has been in dispute before is 28.6 miles away. Woodbridge, Va., which always takes forever to get to is 23.7 miles away. Laurel, Md. is 23.1 miles away. Reston, Va. is 24.6 miles away. Those four cities present four different cities in four different directions from DC that are pretty common locales for various reasons. All of which I (and I’d assume most people) would consider far. As hell. Waldorf, it turns out, is further than all of those places.
Everything you can get in Waldorf you can get somewhere closer. And no matter how far it feels driving to all of those other far places, apparently they’re all closer than Waldorf. So I’d be sitting in that far away ass drive longer on the way to Waldorf. It’s far even if everybody you know is moving out there or already lives there. Even if you live there, shit’s far.
So the answer is yes, Waldorf is far as fuck, Moe.