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Dupont Circle is populated with a variety of wildlife, from pro-life activists in green wigs to giggling Latinos playing speed chess. But my eye is invariably drawn to the forlorn figures on the benches that ring the circle. Some are forlorn for obvious reasons--they're homeless, drunk, or just plain nuts.

But every so often I see a so-called "normal" person, looking distant and alone, and I wonder what got them there. Did her boyfriend jilt her via instant message? Did she get relocated from a window office to a basement cubicle where she now sits with Ed, the oddball company lifer? Is she worried that she'll be forever alone, that she'll never have kids, that she'll be consigned to a future of riding the 42 bus in sensible shoes and a frumpy dress? I'll never know. And I'll always wonder.

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The Lonely
March 2006