Tuesday, March 27, 2007

week's end in the city

For my last Sunday night as a resident of the Hill I reversed my usual jogging route, skipping Lincoln Park and RFK in favor of the more traditional touristy sights. Chasing the sunset down Constitution, I rounded the corner onto the Capitol grounds as Bloc Party vibrated through my earbuds.

There is a wall that runs right through me
Just like the city, I will never be joined

My ponytail was coming loose and I jogged down some steps to my right, thinking they would empty out at a bench where I could stretch and re-tie my hair. To my surprise, the bushes on either side of me opened up to show a small rocky cupola, almost like a chapel, hollowed out into the lawn. I'd seen these stone pits before, of course, but they'd always been boarded up and closed off to the public. Now the gates hung open as I stepped into the cool stone circle, setting my iPod down on the edge of the long-dormant fountain in the center so I could sweep back my sweaty hair.

I've lived on Capitol Hill for three years and never once been inside this nook. Never before had I stretched my sore calves as I did now, using the worn stone benches as a barre and grabbing at gnarled branch of ivy as I lost my balance. How many more of these nooks are there in this neighborhood? How much am I leaving undiscovered? What possible memories am I scrapping before they're experienced?

Standing in the dying light creeping over the edge of the stones, I rolled my eyes at my own melodramatic wistfulness. You're moving to Columbia Heights, EJ. Not Guam. Chill out. You'll be back.

Muscles stretched and melancholy achieved, I walked up and out of the stone pit to catch the last vestiges of the sunset. The sun had the nerve to be setting over Pennsylvania Avenue and was therefore slightly off-center from the line of the Mall as I plopped down on the Capitol steps, not particularly caring that I was inserting myself into several tourists' vacation photos. If it were a perfect last Sunday sunset on the Hill, I thought, then the sun would be evenly backlighting the Washington Monument and the sky would be even more brilliantly pink than it already is. And Rosslyn wouldn't be there to junk up the view. And that woman with the fanny pack wouldn't be glaring at me because I'm blocking her shot of the Dome. It's not like I go to her backyard in Peoria and give her the stank eye when she's going about her day.

I pulled my bare legs to my chest and hugged my arms around them like a little girl. It was still too cold to be jogging in shorts, but all of my sweatpants were shoveled into garbage bags, readied for the big move this weekend. Perhaps not the most efficient way of packing, but then, it is only a mile away.

After I move it'll be a bummer being slightly further away from some friends, but I'll have fun being a lot closer to others. I'll own a home, but my monthly bills will be lower than when I rented. I'll still be the girl who reads five books at the same time and doesn't know her gimlet limits and cooks overelaborate meals with a lot of garlic and who is not terribly good at keeping her unsolicited opinions to herself. I'll still shop and brunch at Eastern Market and watch couples wandering in and out of creaky brick townhouses and daydream about the future. Nothing will really change that much.

I have decided
At twenty-five
Something must change

The sun and the tourists were both gone by the time I peeled myself from the marble floor and trotted off towards home. Home for the next five days, anyway.


Kristin said...

I wish you weren't moving off the Hill but I'm happy for you. Lovely post, as always.

E :) said...

You were really tugging at my heart strings with that one. After coming back to Australia I pine for the hill. I loved that neighbourhood. Instead of saying to myself "You're moving to Columbia Heights, E. Not Guam. Chill out. You'll be back." I found myself saying "You're moving back to Australia E. Savour your time here. You may never return."


Hey Pretty said...

I for one, and thrilled to have another friend in my quadrant of the city.

kris said...

Loved this -- probably my favorite post about one of our experiences in this city in a long, long time.

Is it wrong that I chuckled about Rosslyn junking up the view? ;)

Good luck with your move.