An Old Summer Thought


I don't quite know where I am in relation to where I want to be. It's almost 8:00 on Tuesday evening and my goal is to reach Union Station from a nebulous point in northwest DC. The only thought that has gone into my outfit is an upside down "I <3 NPR" button I've pinned awkwardly over a hole in my 13 year old choir t-shirt, and an afternoon of packing boxes has left me sweaty and generally grossThe elastic in my pants, nĂ© full-length diaper quilted out of flesh colored dish rags, has expanded considerably from a large thanks-for-helping-us-move sandwich -- the first half of which was delicious, and the second half of which tasted like regret. I've hidden my terrible homemade bangs underneath a headband, leaving my forehead's constellation of scabby red pimples on full display (I haven't had occasion to wear makeup in days). My conversations of late consist of concerned relations trying to figure out what should be done with my life, while I desperately avoid the topic. Friends are doing glamorous things in glamorous places and I've taken up online Scrabble in my grandmother's basement. I am a frumpish, directionless transient. And I have to pee.

At this moment in my life, I should be miserable.

I start walking eastish. I come upon a very nice hotel that's bound to have a bathroom inside. As I walk through its kempt marble lobby, I see some incongruous souls lounging in velvet easy chairs and helping themselves to complimentary lemonade. The coiffed hotel patrons and employees steal uncomfortable glances and keep their distance, but their aloofness doesn't shame the vagabonds into politely bowing out into a "more appropriate" setting -- it merely facilitates their air-conditioned idle. This scene inspires me deeply. Why give a damn if everyone else assumes you don't? So I stop. I look at my sweaty pock-marked face in the bathroom mirror and decide not to give a damn. I resume my walk -- back straight, eyes high, belly out. I stop at crosswalks and cough loud, phlegmy, empowered coughs behind uneasily neat bussinesswomen. I grin at toothless homeless men and toothy congressional interns, and in return receive bemused looks from both. No one catcalls at me and no one eyes my purse, for I am a persona non grata. I am the one to be avoided. Eventually, I stumble upon Union Station. It's beautiful, and I stand awhile in the middle of the street to admire it.

At this moment in my life, I am very, very happy.