Perfectly Typical Capitol Hill


January 21, 2012, Washington, DC: She opened the front door Sunday afternoon to the sizzle of onions and voices from the kitchen wafting down the hall. She liked coming home to this -- to impromptu gatherings already underway in her own apartment. After a weekend of travel, it was nice to return home and transition in one fell swoop from guest back to host, visitors swirling around her like the wind.

Friends came Monday, too, to cook and eat and make a post-dinner run to The Sweet Lobby for a macaroon. On Tuesday, she went for a run down the Hill because it felt like San Francisco out there. Without heavy layers weighing her down, she felt light and happy, like she could run for hours gazing at the cracked Washington Monument backlit by the setting sun. She liked winters in D.C. because they were full of surprises, not usually structural ones brought on by earthquakes, but warm evenings in the middle of January and those occupiers who were making their way to the Capitol from Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square. She stopped to watch as they walked by, struck by the civility of it all. Mellow music and sirens and chants of protest and photographer's flashbulbs punctuated the unseasonably warm air and it felt near harmonious out there, like summer was just around the corner.

Her cousin called on her way back up the Hill to say he’d be in town on Friday for a meeting. They'd start off the weekend with dinner at Senart's and drinks at Lola's, a medley of friends-of-friends and family-of-family coming together for a meal down the block. It was that kind of city, one where people came to you. Whether from their homes a few blocks over or tents downtown or apartments hundreds of miles away in Chicago, people gathered there, often at a moment's notice. They had vowed to visit when she lived outside the city and farther than five minutes from the train station and airport, but it had rarely panned out, good intentions and all.

It snowed on Friday night and they slid home under the street lights as it fell. She found it hard to believe just a few days had passed since that mild Tuesday night down by the reflecting pool.