She exited the Cleveland Park metro station (after an hour and a half commute) to go to an event that apparently was not taking place today. She ascended the stairs to the locked door festooned with flags of greeting, but peered in at the lightless rooms. Half relieved, half disappointed, she turned around to go back to the station.
She goes back. And this time she notices the signs pointing to the zoo. A girl she once was once fell in love there, but then it was springtime, and the yellowing leaves do not remind her of him now at all.
DC is like this. She walks the streets hungry to remember, and desperate to forget. What she wants from a city is continuity, but the continuity speaks to her in shades of ghosts blown in on a chilling breeze.
Two weeks ago she traveled to Richmond, a city with no history for her, but the knowledge that he haunts it haunted her at gas stations or restaurants. "Why do you keep looking behind you?" somebody asked. And she had no answer, except that she fears that only by looking behind her would she be able to say where she has been.
But she has no ghosts there herself, not really. The city is big, she tells herself. He can't find her here. And if he could, he would not recognize her, not anymore, not after all that happened in the intervening decade.
She returns to the metro. She travels home with her books in hand, her iPod on shuffle, she hears the bargain CD she bought way back when, before him, before cities, before she knew what it would mean:
"I think of myself walking down/seventeenth street, my hair in my face/coat clutched around me - I fear I will see myself stuck, in that other life, that other girl that I killed/long ago"