When I start my new job in a few days, I'll be taking the metro to work, for the first time in almost four years. I am a big proponent of the walking commute, and I'll be sad to give up those daily windows of time when I'm moving through the city, preparing for the day or sloughing it off of me.
But it got me thinking, this move back into the crowded subway cars, about the last time I took the metro to work. I like to do this, from time to time - remind myself of where I was at a given point, where I am now at another. It's hard to see progress or change when you are in it. Occasionally life throws in a change so abrupt and dramatic that it's obvious to the person experiencing it at the moment they experience it. But most of the time, at least for me, it's so slow and minute as to be almost imperceptible. Like the catkins on the trees this week. They'll bloom at some point, in a month, or two, but they started now, when the snow is on the ground and they are so small you could walk right past if you weren't looking closely.
Four years ago I had finally, just, put myself back together again after I had ended a relationship a year prior. It was such a good thing that the relationship was over, but it takes time to move past the end of something. I was living in my own apartment, the second apartment I had in DC, and the first of my very own. It was a tiny studio and I paid through the nose for it, but I loved it because it was mine. At the end of the block was a pink flowering Kwanzan cherry tree with blooms so heavy the limbs would sink toward the pavement, creating a floral archway. If I had to pick one thing to say about that year, I would mention the intoxicating luxury of walking underneath those flowers on a balmy spring night.
I had been seeing a man and it was new and intoxicating as Kwanzan blossoms. Everything about that time felt dizzying. I hadn't really learned to take care of myself well - I stayed awake too late and didn't cook for myself and smoked. I remember smoking on the way to the subway in the morning, smoking on the way back. I hated smoking, but also loved it too much to figure out how to stop. That year I subscribed to the Washington Post, the paper edition because I couldn't afford internet in my apartment. The paper would arrive on my doorstep every morning, and one morning I locked myself out grabbing it. I had no hidden keys, I had no one to call. I was alone that year. Not completely, but more than I had ever been, more than I would be.
Now I'm married to the man I was dating then. We live in a still small but bigger than a studio apartment on the opposite side of town. I finally figured out how to stop smoking and cook and go to sleep earlier. I subscribe to the digital version of the New York Times. It's all different now, not better, but different. Less alone, less dizzying, or dizzying in different ways. My life changed in ways couldn't have predicted then, but there is still a Kwazan at the end of the block I live on now and for a precious period of time each spring, the sidewalk is carpeted in its blossoms.