It 's suddenly very cold in Washington D.C. on the day before Thanksgiving. The streets are pretty empty, proving the adage that no one really lives in this town; they only come here to work and make appropriate connections before moving home to take over some smaller place in Iowa or Delaware or Georgia.
Of course that's the illusion of 'white' DC, a trick of the Northwest corner of this city. The other half is spread throughout the east and up into Maryland where families still live and will be huddling around the hum of the electric spaceheater in small, poorly-insulated homes which will fill with talk and foodsmell and football. The tamale wrappings are selling out fast in the South American groceries and the beat-out Giant supermarket is running low on white bread and store-brand orange soda.
Me, I'll be heading south on 95 tonight like a true pilgrim waiting till late to avoid the crush of capital traffic. I'll drive across Virginia through the night, eyes peeled for the glow of lonely convenience stores who might have a leftover coffeepot still on the burner. I'll freeze by the gaspumps, trembling in the wind with a bladder full to bursting. I'll listen to NPR till the signals fade south of Richmond and then I'll switch to tapes. Another hour or so down U.S. 1 in North Carolina, watching for the random herds of suicide deer, I'll turn a sharp left into my father's driveway where the carport light will still be on. The dog will wake up and bark down the house as I try to slip quietly inside and stretch out my leg muscles in the house of my childhood. Tonight, I'll curl up with a few 30-year-old comic books in a too-small bed before dropping off to sleep in the weird rural quiet of my father's house.