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.

4 comments:

  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?

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  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!

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  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.

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

    Yet.

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

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