It's a Small City, After All

Friday, June 12, 2009

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.


  1. This has happened to me three times in Philadelphia, which is three times larger than D.C., population-wise. My husband is from Philly, and three different times we were out downtown in the city and ran into his crazy ex-girlfriend (twice) and once into his ex-best friend who he stopped talking to when she started stalking me online telling me I wasn't good enough for him.

    I'm kind of dreading when I actually live in Philadelphia... who else from his past will we see?

  2. Ouch! I hate when stuff like this happens. I remember being out with a bunch of friends one night, having a grand old time until my ex-love-of-my-life (at that time) waltzed in with his new beau. I thought I would die that night!

  3. Too small. I've been here for almost a decade and so I guess I'm not surprised anymore. But an ex nuzzling three feet away? Ugh.

  4. I haven't run across this problem...


    But then again, none of the guys I've been with actually travel in the city.


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