During the months of June and July, I was busy.
One day a week, I'd make an all day trip to see Dr. Lebensohn near Dupont Circle. I'd begin the day around 6 a.m. walking to the Grey Hound Station not far from the Warrenton Horse Show grounds and about a mile and a half from my mother's house. The bus was mostly filled with domestic help making their way from rural Virginia to the mansions in Georgetown and the northwest corridors of D.C. I was one of the few white people and one of the many women. And as we rode along, I'd watch the countryside turn from pastures to suburbia to white monuments along the Potomac and anger would well up in me. I was no longer in San Francisco; the city on the Bay that offered independence, beauty and a dream of becoming someone else.
But on the bus, while alternating napping and listening, I was able to relax into the rhythm of the female ridership - their stories of misbehaving children, haughty employers, broken-down cars and relationships, all fodder for belly-aching jokes and free flowing comradery. I heard in their mellow voices and periodic shrieks a life's-troubles-be-damned resilience. I felt in their simple kindness towards me a kinship and warmth. The long, slow trip lifted me into an unfamiliar experience of acceptance and I'd fall back asleep.
By early morning, we'd arrive downtown. The walk to Dupont Circle would take almost two hours as I stopped along the way, first at the Mayflower Hotel for a cup of coffee and fruit and then by Kramer Books for browsing among the mystery, sci-fi and humor selections. If there was time, I'd visit Rosemary, owner of Toast and Strawberries, wander among her clothes and jewelry, hear about her important community work, and often get introduced to local designers and craft people - all artsy, confident, and full of urban attitude.
At a little before 11:30 a.m., I'd purchase a second cup of coffee on Connecticut Avenue and begin the final path to my appointment with a pleasant buzz. My time would be up after 45 minutes, Dr. Lebensohn, in his fatherly manner, would escort me out, and I'd window shop back to the bus station by way of the Smithsonian and the Museum of Modern Art. After a round of exhibits and an early dinner in the cavernous cafeteria below, I'd join my companions for a quiet ride home in the welcoming seat from the morning. The satisfaction of having been alone and free all day, of being a stoned but watchful presence among works of art, sober spaces, and new friends who didn't know me, had prepared me for the week's work ahead.
To be continued ...