memories of washington

MEMORIES OF WASHINGTON, memories of love, of clinging love, of wet-eyed girls kissing me before the fall break, as if I was going off to war or something, big District sun, big orange brick buildings, big melodrama, and all the floors of Thurston Hall with the vomit in the water fountains on weekends, and the chair that people kept in the elevator door on the fourth floor, so that our fourth floor people would get the lift first in the mornings. The rush down and up the staircases, the sweaty foreheads, the nasty coeds, those nicknames codenames like “Bastard Dan” and “Soup Boy,” idle conversations like, “Did you hear the new Ben Folds?” Ironic t-shirts, t-shirts mocking ironic t-shirts, normal t-shirts, and, “Did you get the new Lauryn Hill?,” sharpened pencils, baggy shorts, the bounce of the braided hair, and the black SUVs pulling up on Sunday mornings with young underage-ish women rather staggering toward those big wood doors after some wild night in an Alexandria or Georgetown penthouse, undergarments barely refastened. Hot, pungent Washington, DC, rats in the bushes, Congress on the Hill, Chinatown, U Street-Cardozo, sprawled homeless in the parks at night, groaning like Civil War wounded in a field hospital, and that one particular homeless man with the dreads and strange big eye who domineered Farragut North with his pronouncements of dread and the second coming. One morning, I awoke to see him standing outside our house, babbling his Biblical fury, as if he had followed me home. He looked back at me and smiled heinous and cockeyed. They said a girl in Mitchell Hall woke up once to encounter a stranger sitting in her room, another one of the unwashed mentally ill without homes. The classes were huge, whole auditoriums full, and all I did is sketch psychedelic cartoons while so-and-so gave us the intro to overview. One class, intro to sociology, was so full that there were never any seats. I would just walk by the open door, see if there was room for me, and if there wasn’t, I would keep on walking. It was just beginning to dawn on me then that I was full of “stuff” — passion? emotion? — or just maybe a psychopath trying to function in a hamster cage paper pushing world. Run the wheels, run the wheels, run those damn wheels, now, drink it off. Order some fries. Stand in line for a Manouch Dog at 2 AM. Take it home, devour it, leave the foil in curls by the bed, sleep off the hangover, dream. Tomorrow would be another day. Tomorrow.

written 20 march 2019/revised 9 september 2021

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