What exit to take from Metro Center. What streets to walk to get to the CVS, and to the cough drops and Theraflu stocked there. And as I crossed 11th Street, I not only realized that the raven haired woman walking towards me was smiling at me, but that dammit, I recognized her. I worked at the Bookstore with her: I was a bookseller, she was cafe. She’d left for one of the Virginia stores around Thanksgiving, after a dispute with management.
I smiled back, and we embraced in the middle of the intersection. “I was just thinking about you!” she said to me, and then we both decided to get out of the intersection before the light changed colors.
Side note: there are very few things quite as wonderful as a pretty lady telling you she’s been thinking about you recently.
We talked about going to see Harry Potter when it opened it at the Smithsonian’s IMAX screens. She still hadn’t seen part one of The Deathly Hallows. I gave her my email address, told her we should go together. “Maybe I’ll watch part one tonight,” she said.
I debated whether to go grocery shopping or not. Sick all week, finally starting to feel better, but I still weighed my returning appetite against my desire to just go home and lay down on the couch.
I was in the home goods aisle, looking for dish soap. “Jeff?” I turned and saw Brooke.
I first met Brooke one morning at about six o’clock. She’d just moved in down the hall and we were both waiting for the same elevator. She was in heels, and she’d just met me, but she trusted me to lead her down my alley shortcut to the Metro, and then she let me talk her into taking the escalator instead of the elevator. On the platform, I caught a train for Shady Grove, and she for Glenmont.
That was about three years ago. We only hung out once, when she took me up on my offer to watch the presidential debates, as she didn’t have TV. She came down the hall another time to watch my cats while I was away for a weekend.
We’ve been neighbors all that time, although she was only in my building for a year. I would see her on occasion, usually down near that (I think now defunct) coffee shop past Manhattan Market. I hadn’t seen her in probably a year or so. I thought she’d moved on, left DC.
She finished law school a year ago, she told me. She couldn’t find a job. She was moving back to New England, tomorrow. We talked about whether it was necessary for her to spend lots of money on cleaning supplies to get her soon-to-be-former apartment ship shape. I said no. The landlord would do that. She’d worried about me when she’d heard Borders had closed. I was fine, I have a new part-time job, and it was okay, but it wasn’t the same.
She wrote down her email address in the notepad I carry. We hugged.
Two re-connections that I would have missed out on if I hadn’t made such small, minute decisions. What exit to take. What route to walk. Where and when to go to the grocery store. And yet part of me wonders … what would’ve happened if I’d taken another path?