As of July 2008, the Population Division of the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 591,833 people inhabit the District of Columbia.
That's a lot of people, right?
So tell me why it's so damn easy to run into the handful of folks I don't want to see? Actually, scratch that. Why is it so easy to run into anyone? If they live next door to me or something, OK, I get it - I'm gonna see 'em again. But folks who live in different neighborhoods should have a fairly low chance of running into... well, folks who live in different neighborhoods!
I'm always amazed when I end up on the same train car as anyone I know. Of all the lines, of all the trains, of all the cars, of all the moments, what are the odds of bumping into somebody you've got ties to? It's a big city, & I'm inclined to feel like the odds should be way lower than they are in my mini-city of an Ohio hometown, where I'm likely to run into my entire 383-person graduating class on a single Friday evening spent on the Riverfront.
Yet it happens all the time here. Sometimes it's a positive thing: "OMGZ, Girl-I-Used-to-Intern-With, I haven't seen you in forevs, let's be BFF, kthxbai!" or "Heyyy, Guy-I-Took-to-My-Sorority-Formal, fancy meeting you at the Big Hunt on a Tuesday eve!"
And sometimes, well, it's not.
Take today, for example. I'm running a little late, which is par for the course of my life, yet I am fortunate enough to hop onto a Metro train within one minute of my arrival upon the Cleveland Park platform. Jammin' out to my newly made "Stuff No One Knows" mix on the old iPhone, I take a seat & am headed for work.
But now, I retract my usage of the word "fortunate." Sitting directly across from me is a couple, holding hands & talking cute & nuzzling a little bit. Not one for PDA, mine or yours, I sort of roll my eyes & go back to the indie rock - but wait! I know one half of that couple.
My ex-boyfriend. And his presumably new girlfriend.
"Oh, hey," I say. He nods. She does not acknowledge my presence; she also probably has no idea who I am. Can I even use the term "ex-boyfriend" if, for six months, I refused to use the word "boyfriend"? Oy.
I return to the music, for realz this time, but with infinitely more awkwardness.
Big city, indeed.