Then Came December


December 7, 2014, Washington, DC: I tried to linger as long as possible, but summer ended and autumn raced in without asking permission. Warm days spent strolling the neighborhood on maternity leave came to an abrupt halt. Fall arrived quickly. On Barracks Row, people lined up for dinner at Rose's Luxury, Bon Appetit's best new restaurant of the year, beneath golden trees and planters filled with mums. In the blink of an eye, postseason baseball in the District came and went. Election posters were plastered on street signs and just as soon ripped away. The city legalized marijuana, Republicans gained control of Congress down the street, and former mayor-for-life Marion Barry passed away. As the season raced ahead, scaffolding enveloped the Capitol Dome at the pace of an old-fashioned film reel. A glamorous Christmas tree suddenly appeared at the shiny new City Center before we could process that the old parking lot downtown where we used to board the Chinatown bus had since become a sparkling development. Doormen greeted guests at the new Marriott near the Convention Center and we couldn’t remember what had occupied the block before. The front façade of the original Chinese Community Church remained standing but shrank into the construction that near swallowed it on all sides. Next the First Family lit the White House Christmas tree and away we went. Now the neighborhood smells like pine.

Mornings are dark now. When we open the blinds with little girl each day to see if the sun is awake, we discover we’ve risen first. We prepare for the work day in the dark. We come home, play indoors and cozy up.

I am up and out this Sunday morning before the vendors at Eastern Market. Only the crepe and doughnut guys have began constructing their tents as I take a seat at the coffee shop and begin to write. The hollow hammering of tent poles is a sound I now associate with home, not camping. As I start to reflect, the day brightens, the shop fills, the college girls to my left analyze their living arrangements. Today more trees just out the shop door will be tied onto cars or carried away, off to the homes of Capitol Hill to be decked, lit, and celebrated. From my seat in the window, I notice my family is awake. They have opened the blinds and welcomed the sleepy sun. It is time to go home and begin the day.

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