Breaking my usual habit of setting out for walks mid-morning, I first had an 11:30 hair appointment, during which I had my hair cut and colored for the first time! Very exciting. So I struck forth from my neighborhood at 2 pm, already hungry for lunch. On the way to the Metro station, I stopped at our new Starbucks (subject of much local controversy) for coffee and a lunch special (sandwich, chips, banana and water bottle for $8.95). I didn't really want the banana and water bottle, but the staff strongly encouraged me. Why do businesses offer you lower prices to get more stuff than you need? Why did I comply?
The Starbucks, far from seeming corporate and sterile, was like everyplace else in my neighborhood: chaotic. The employees were having far too much fun together. Nobody seemed to know how to work the register. Customers were treated as potential friends. This is the egalitarian, crazy, joyful, infuriating vibe of Takoma Park.
After lunch, I took the red and orange line trains to the Eastern Market station, near Capitol Hill. There was a pleasant grassy plaza where I emerged from underground. Directly across D St., there was another Starbucks, and I stopped there as well, for a cup of green tea and the chance to write some notes for an article. Once again, I realized, I had forgotten my camera.
Afterwards, I walked down 8th St.-- with a brief detour over to 9th-- towards the Washington Navy Yard. 8th St. seemed to be a diverse, active business district, but the residential areas barely off this thoroughfare were sleepy, quiet, with an occasional dad-and-stroller or neighbors chatting on the stoop. The townhouses here were smaller than in Adams-Morgan, and the gardens less manicured, but the buildings were painted in bright, cheery colors and might have been described as "cute." I bet these streets are still expensive. What really set this neighborhood apart from other places in DC, though, was the presence of random military personnel everywhere. Outside the Marine Barracks, there was a uniformed guy standing as if on guard, but not really on guard, just for show, like the ones at Buckingham Palace. In fact, standing on the corner with his hips thrust forward, he looked more like a stripper wearing a military uniform than an actual member of our armed forces. Other similar guys were on other corners, standing around formally. Meanwhile pairs of uniformed men strolled about chatting, and a neighborhood beer garden was full of naval officers (I think) wearing service khakis. I felt as though I'd been transported momentarily back to 1942.
So I walked all the way down to the Naval Yard (beautiful buildings here), then reversed course and returned to I St., at which point I zig-zagged northwest through another residential neighborhood, ending up at attractive Marion Park and then heading back east towards the Eastern Market Metro station. Interestingly, this residential area west of 8th was markedly different than the one on the east side, though they were only blocks apart. The townhouses were not as brightly colored here-- the buildings favored a kind of 1970s bland taupe, the gardens featured minimalist evergreen shrubberies, and the people on the street appeared somewhat less prosperous. I'm no real estate expert, but I'm thinking those blocks are more affordable.
The trail took me through an alley (F St. Terrace) which is apparently one of the few DC alleys which still has a significant number of unique residences facing onto it. The sign there explained that such alley residences used to be much more numerous in the city. Apart from perhaps safety and lighting concerns, it seemed like an ideal place to live: quiet and private, plenty of vegetation, and facing the grounds of a pretty church.
Today's short walk actually took me through most of the Barracks Row trail, but I will return and visit Eastern Market, at trail's end, another day.
Two weeks later, my hair was already noticeably longer; my Metro line was under repair and it took me three trains this time to arrive at the Eastern Market station. I was determined. Fueled by an early hour of reading in the cafe down the street, drinking an almond milk cappuccino, I felt enough at peace to calmly navigate the system.