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Empty, August 2019

People say that the city empties out in August. That it goes dead and becomes quiet. For a moment you could believe it.

The school bus has come and gone, picking up campers and taking them to their destination, and parents, having said goodbye, have moved on, to work or back home.

A nearby elementary school’s playground is nearly empty, and everyone who is here seems to be going about their business alone.

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A lone woman circles the field slowly and consistently as the sun rises in the sky. Her Apple earbuds dance as she moves counterclockwise around the track. An older man, dressed in athletic attire, sits on a bench and observes. On the other side of the fence a woman multitasks: doing yoga or stretching while also entertaining her two dogs. She alternates between striking a pose and throwing a frisbee, which one of them lazily chases.

The only pair—a young child and a young woman—also operate as individuals. The child toddles across the vacant playground and scales the jungle gym, unencumbered by other kids. The woman sits in the shade and watches.

The streets and sidewalks seem empty, too. Even the cars and cyclists and pedestrians who pass by do so with respect for the morning’s solitude. The city feels deserted, but every desert has its mirages. Just a block away a construction team is making a terrible noise and downtown traffic and work and school and lawmakers and political debates loom. But this morning people enjoy their oasis.

Will Warren writes Scene and Heard. If you know of a location worthy of being seen or heard, email him at wwarren@washingtoncitypaper.com.