Tales of a 21st Century Gypsy

February 17, 2004. Back in Arlington.

In Cape Town the sun was dazzling, the sky brilliant blue, the heat overwhelming. In Arlington the sun is weak, timid even. The sky is pale blue, white, and light gray. Itís cold. Not very cold, just suitably cold for February. The light is gentle, the bare trees dark against the sky, the bare lawns brown in front of the houses. Evergreens stand out lush compared to the rest of the vegetation. Everything is modest, moderate. The houses are small, their views are timid, not ambitious and sweeping as they are in Cape Town. On the horizon the Washington Monument is visible from miles away, but this is a local community, not a world-class one, no matter what they like to say in their planning documents.

Sitting in the auto dealership waiting for my car to be inspected, I have a wide view through picture windows of Lee Highway, a typical Arlington avenue. In front of me the dealershipís lot is full of cars, the same shades as the sky and the pavement and the bare trees, in silvery grays and blues. Looking down Lee Highway the buildings are brick, with dark green roofs, dark green awning on a restaurant, asphalt tile on the roofs of an auto parts shop and a veterinary clinic. Down the hill one building is painted buttery yellow, I think that is the French theater, Le Neon. Why should we have a French theater here? No one knows.

A flag flies over a row of shops. Across the street the discount wine and beer announces international beverages, gourmet cheeses, cigars, in a neon sign in the window, and faxes sent for $1.00. A low strip of storefronts down the way houses a convenience store and the yoga studio where I used to take classes. The fire station is a bit more imposing, two stories, brick walls. The view is a forest of poles; poles supporting street lights, poles with yellow traffic lights dangling from them swaying gently in the wind, poles with wires strung from them, poles with flood lights in the parking lot below me, flag poles, poles with nothing on them at all.

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