Small Talk on a DC Street


December 28, 2012, Washington, DC: The older woman walking down the sidewalk just ahead of me this afternoon slowed down and turned to wait by the board game shop. "Do you live in this area?" she asked.

"I do," I said.

"How do you stand it?" she asked with a laugh.

She'd been looking for parking for far too long and had finally found a spot near my doorstep. She asked if I owned a car. I told her I do, but I rarely drive. I told her I dislike being behind the wheel in the city as much as she does.

"It sure has changed here," she said as we rounded the corner.

"Did you used to live here?" I asked.

She looked me in the eye and smiled softly. I could tell she had stories.

"I grew up here," she replied.

"Next time I come back, I'll be taking the bus."

The automatic door opened and ushered us both into a busy CVS. I never heard her account of the days she spent on Capitol Hill, nor did I share with her the many reasons I love her old neighborhood. I didn't tell that I stand it here precisely because of these nuggets collected from strangers -- the ones we amass when we live life out of the car and take a quick walk to the pharmacy down the street.

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