daily preciousness

Friday, March 15, 2002

new home

Right now, it's the tangy, sweet taste of a cranberry and orange muffin from the uptowner cafe. It's the sound of non-pretentious classical music on WETA.

But earlier this morning, it was the bumpy cobble stone street with a view of the Potomac. It was the shrieking of clouds of seagulls of the yacht club harbor. It was the tiny parking enforcement vehicle, with its three wheels and flashing red and yellow lights, the black woman inside carefully marking tires with blue chalk.

Lately, it's the sight of the cherry blossoms painting the sky pink below the Masonic Temple. Just the other day, it was where I discovered the national headquarters of the snack food association. (I grinned as I saw a rotund woman walking through their front doors. "She takes her job seriously," I remember thinking.)

Last week it was King Street, its lights all aglow, with a cheerful buzz on a Friday night below the marquis lights of the Old Town theatre. It's the farmer's market on a Saturday morning, with dowdy old biddies stooping over a pile of homegrown grapes, inspecting the fruits as if they were precious emeralds. (When no one is looking, she sneaks a bite and relishes the flood-like blast of juicy, golden fruit as it bursts between her yellow teeth.)

It's a land settled in the Archaic era, about 1000 B.C., by the first Americans. (They grew maize and squash in the rich alluvial soil here.) It's a place that Western eyes hadn't seen before Captain John Smith, on his trip up from Jamestown, Virginia.

It's Ollson's independent bookstore and coffee shop, just a block away from the water. It's the great craic (good cheer) of the Irish pubs after the St. Patrick's Parade on March 2. (On that day, it was me and my roommate, Andy, wearing green plastic firemen's hats and waving at the emergency rescue personnel in the parade.

It's the city founded by Scottish traders. It's a place with little parks with little signs that read, "owners must clean up behind their dogs."

Alexandria is all of these things. And, as of February, it is my home.

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