Yesterday, I ran into Carmen on my way to the Metro to catch the train home from work.
Carmen and I used to work together at the Chronicle before I moved on to my current place of employment at GWUMC.
I hadn't seen her in a few months -- mostly because of the costumes -- because I've been so busy that I haven't been staying late at work.
We walked together along the semi-crowded sidewalk, chatting in that casual way, when you haven't seen someone in a while. The chorus of "How are yous" and "What have you been up tos" rising and falling over the subdued sound of the birds singing in the cherry trees that line the path.
It turns out that she's actually been in Spain for the past month, enjoying literature and writing. Carmen aspires to be a writer some day and reads a lot of Spanish literature. She always has an interesting-looking book tucked under her arm or in her bag.
I caught her up on my situation with school, work and sewing and she told me all the recent work-gossip from the Chronicle. My ex-boss is getting married, they've hired two new people in the department ... that sort of thing.
Some of the news was surprising, some of it a relief, most of it just mildly interesting in that sort of "this stuff used to be important to me" way.
Mostly it was just nice to see Carmen and talk to her and we made plans for lunch, which we got together for today and continued parts of the conversation that was abruptly interrupted by her stop coming up.
Over burritos she told me about her idea of starting up a magazine for Latina women in the DC-area, both print and web-based. I told her about my mistakes with the costuming business and we commiserated about debt and the poor practices of various banks.
After lunch we ran into another Chronicle-employee and stood around on the street corner dishing like old ladies.
Finally we went our separate ways, heading last to the cool interiors of already air-conditioned offices.
Next week I will call Carmen and we'll do lunch again.
I was beginning to forget how nice the company of other women is -- how much I miss it. I've had blinders on for the past few months and my world has shrunk so much that seeing her again was like a breath of fresh air.
High time to start living again I think and stop being "una esclava de la maquina" as she eloquently put it, while Salsa blasted our ears and the smell of frijoles refritos permeated the air.