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On Sunday I was riding back from Philadelphia. I was on a Chinatown bus, the little boy in front of me was trying his best to become a monkey, and the young man beside me was explaining his medical history. It was an epic history, full of terrible surgeries in distant places, and colored with the most minute descriptions of pain that I have ever heard.

After two hours between the zoo and the hospital bed, I began to see Northeast D.C. passing by the windows. There were withered lots, high fences, crumbling houses, basketball courts. A woman exclaimed: “This is D.C.? This looks just like Philadelphia.”