Long Walks On Leafy Streets

3/11/2018 Rock Creek Park, Washington, DC.
A bit of a Valentine (Part II)

Yesterday was a nice relief from the unseasonably cold weather of recent days. Nicole went for a long hike on the towpath in the morning and seemed to enjoy the outing. She is training for the One Day Hike with the Sierra Club next month, from Georgetown to Harper’s Ferry. I took Prashant to watch the Rock and Roll half-marathon. We were there to cheer my friend Alan. The race turns from Harvard St onto 5th St to go along the reservoir. That corner is near where we used to live and that ‘s where we waited, enjoying the drumming by the Batala women’s group. Prashant also enjoyed looking at the reservoir. It was great to see Alan make the turn and after giving a high-five to him we turned back to go home. Prashant had so much fun that he didn’t want to go home!

I would have liked to run myself. Indeed Alan and I have run the Parks half-marathon the last two years together.
But this year I managed to gain entry to the Marine Corps’ 1775K (11.03 miles) race on March 24. Finishing this race guarantees entry to the Marine Corps Marathon in the fall and I am glad to not have to depend on the luck of the lottery. So it would have been too much to run two half-marathons within two weeks. I did go running later in the afternoon and it was quite pleasant. Because the National Park Service is doing road work in the middle section of the Rock Creek Park these days I run from my home to the Piney Branch Parkway and catch the Rock Creek at Porter St.

I end these runs near Dupont Circle. After getting a snack and drink from the CVS to refuel I like to spend a little time at the park in the middle, stretching and cooling down. Last night it was too cold – about 45 degrees- to linger there, but nevertheless I enjoyed spending time there and it brought back good memories. Dupont Circle is where I used to hang out during the early days after my arrival at Washington to work at Howard University. What I liked was the fact that there were all kinds of people there. Even today, when gentrification has completely changed many neighborhoods in DC and the home prices in the Dupont Circle Area are among the highest in the area, the homeless people and the random preachers and activists of all kinds can still be found in Dupont Circle. Perhaps the tolerance towards different kinds of people came from the fact that this was a cradle of progressivism as chronicled, for example, in the book “On Dupont Circle.” This book describes the lives of progressives like FDR and Felix Frankfurter in the early days of their career when they lived in Dupont Circle. Perhaps it comes from the fact that this neighborhood became a refuge for the gay community. When I first arrived in DC I was not at all familiar with the gay community because in India they were, in those days, largely hidden. Coming from a religiously conservative part of India and growing up in a religiously conservative family it was a bit of a shock to me at first. But perhaps due to my tolerant nature or my belief in Advaita (Not two but one) that teaches the oneness of all creation it never turned me away from Dupont Circle.

Indeed it only made it my favorite location in DC. I would get there after work on Friday evenings. It is also one of the places where I used to bring women whom I was interested in. All of them, except for Nicole, spent time with me only as friends, but I am fortunate that they were all women of character who cared about other people. Except for one who told me that Dupont Circle was too unclean for her they all enjoyed spending time there. The fact that someone enjoys spending time there shows me that they are accepting, or at least tolerant, of people with different backgrounds. Of course if they don’t that doesn’t mean they are intolerant. There could be many reasons why a person likes a particular place.

With Nicole we ended our first date at Dupont Circle. It was a long evening almost nine years ago. We met in the afternoon and chatted and spent time together until very late at night. I will continue this Valentine’s Day theme in the next posting and write more about how I met her, although it might take some more explaining of my life before I met her. Nicole and I are like two rivers that joined together at some point and are now continuing our journey as one. I cannot say much about the river that Nicole was before we met, but I do want to write about my journey before I met her.

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