Monday, June 26, 2017

Ramblings, ii

disconnected journal entries

Four days left until I leave Raleigh. I'm sitting in the PR; it's past standard lunch hour so the booths are empty and the bartenders are extra chatty. A waitress, the spitting image of Lena Dunham, hands me a roll of silverware and says "thank you" then turns to me, mortified, and says, "I don't know why I said that." Hozier's "Like Real People Do" floats in the background, its careful, soulful strains threatening to make me tear up like they always do. Outside, storm clouds roll in; tornadoes and thunderstorms are expected despite the sunny weather. Inside, I sip a tropical fruit wit beer and munch on house chips dipped in ranch, watching the dirty golden light reflect off the fish in the tank behind the bar. This place is the true heart of the city, despite its placement nestled in amongst the quickly gentrifying streets, threatened by its prime position on a busy street. This is the Raleigh I'll always remember.

It's my first day in DC. I seek out the Folger Shakespeare Library, knowing it holds a First Folio of Shakespeare's works and needing to see it with my own eyes. I walk in the visitor's entrance and am immediately met by the exuberant presence of a self-proclaimed "boring bureaucrat who retired and fell down the Shakespeare rabbit hole." He gestures to the library's contents and the Folio, then points me in the direction of the Folger Theater where I make my way up to the balcony level and watch, silently, as the understudies practice their lines for the theater's ongoing production of Timon of Athens. Beside me sits another girl who whispers over her praise of the afternoon's performances. The practice ends and we find our way back down the stairs, falling into conversation as we exit the library's doors. We walk down the street together, swapping college names and degrees and unfavorable opinions of West Coasters before we separate at a fork in the road, never to see each other again.

I prepared myself to move to a big city, but I did not prepare for DC. All of the other big cities I’ve visited are like medium cities; big city people exhibit the characteristics of medium-town people in exaggerated values: more ambitious, more creative, more risk-taking. In DC, the process of meeting people is more jarring; every conversation is another revelation that the people I am surrounded by are all much more accomplished than the people with which I’m used to being around; everyone here has two master’s decrees, a secure job in the government, a successful marriage, a military pension, a stint living abroad, an uncle who’s a spy, a top level security clearance code. Working on Capitol Hill is an activity thrown around in conversation like it’s normal. People - usually the disgruntled type - complain that those who live in Washington reside in a bubble, and to an extent it’s true. Politics take up so much of the environment here; it’s impossible to do anything outside of it.

There's a shooting in Alexandria, the city where I now live; five Republicans are shot at while playing baseball on a field in Del Ray. It's the first time I feel connected to a shooting incident - the baseball field is in the lot beside my YMCA, across the street from the Aldi I shop at and the coffee shop I frequent. I have only been here 10 days but I know the area well and it's jarring realising that such an incident can happen anywhere, even beautiful, friendly Del Ray.

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