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Archive for September, 2008

Old home revisited

I walked up to Georgetown today to return a jacket to Patagonia that I loved, but could not justify. I bought it during their huge sale thinking it was a parka. It was the perfect red. It fit really, really well. But it was a shell, not a parka, and I have something like that so I had to take it back as soon as possible so I wouldn’t keep this thing that wanted but did not need.

I walked up M Street. This is a walk I used to do daily when I carpooled with a friend who worked in Georgetown. It felt a little like going back in time, walking up that road. A little bit of old home that I never knew was home at all. I passed Zeds, where BF and I once had really good Ethiopian food back when I was working on the farm. We had gone to meet and old friend of his who happened to be in town on business. She was there with her coworkers, all of them dressed in their business niceness, and I was in jeans and a tank top with my fingernails stained black from a day working the transplanter. Someone suggested we share a vegetarian plate (you eat Ethiopian with your hands) and I just kind of looked at my hands, looked at them, and tried to offer them an out. They didn’t care. It was a delicious, relaxed meal and really nice company. I passed by Miss Saigon, where a friend and I went to dinner one night after getting haircuts together. I passed the salon. I passed the firehouse. I thought about when I carried the three-tier stout cake that way from my friend’s office to mine, and the way the firemen had all ogled the cake (not me). I rediscovered a yarn store I had forgotten was there.

Walking back, I came to the bridge that crosses over Rock Creek Park, and I approached the same homeless man that I used to see every day when I made this walk 2 years ago. He was deep in political discussion with someone, like he always used to be, newspaper in his lap. That year I watched him as a talkative, engaging man in the summer and then wither with the seasons into a blanket wrapped pleading bum in the winter. I would always stop and buy him coffee and something to eat, hoping to do something to make a bright spot, add a bit of warmth, to his bitingly cold day.

I pulled a dollar out of my wallet and placed it in his hands as I walked by. He looked me in the face, smiling and graciously thankful. I smiled back and continued on. He probably doesn’t remember me; he sees thousands of faces a day. Though I was sorry to see him in the same spot in life, it felt good to remember him, to give him a reason to smile.

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