On an Encounter in Rock Creek Park

21Oct07

A young runner — perhaps twenty years old — had stopped to stretch at one of the Parcourse installations in Rock Creek Park; it did not take more than a single glance to realize why he looked so familiar. In a short conversation, he confirmed that he had in fact just this year graduated from ____ and was now working at _____, an environmental group with offices on L Street. He planned to go to law school at some point, although when pressed as to exactly why, he confessed to being far more interested in music.

“And do you have a boyfriend?” I asked.

“What makes you think I’m gay?” he responded, though less fearful or angry than genuinely curious.

“You’re not?”

“No,” he said, although in a tone I found too indifferent to be convincing.

I shrugged. “Do you have have a girlfriend, then?”

“No,” he sighed and rubbed his hands together in a gesture I also recognized from long ago. “You’ve told me so little about yourself,” he finally managed.

“What would you like to know?”

He considered me for a few seconds. “Who do you love best: your father, your mother, your sister or your brother?”

“I have no father or mother or sister or brother.”

“Then who are your friends?”

“The concept means nothing to me.”

“So you’re a capitalist?”

“I hate capitalism almost as much as I hate nationalism.”

“What about music?”

“I once loved the Smiths and the Meat Puppets and many others who have long since disappeared; I now try to console myself with the grand opera, painful as that can be.” I addressed him more intently. “What else?”

“What’s left for you?”

“Many things!” I answered vehemently, though I also smiled at him. “For one, I love this park and others like it, vast and forested and urban, where decades flow like water through the haunted ruins of the past.”

Rock Creek Park

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