The View from Here: Del Ray Neighborhood, Alexandria, Virginia


In this series, we offer you a little window onto life in one corner of the world or another. Enjoy peeking through the curtains with us! 

Little did we know that this week's corner of the world would hit international news less than two weeks after this piece was written and scheduled for publication. Now this View from Here serves to offer context for the Washington, D.C., metro-area community in which the sobering news event took place. The day described below stands in stark contrast.



It’s a coffeehouse Saturday in a socially conscious American neighborhood where printed books equal computers at late-morning tables but children outnumber them all. The woman in front of me carts two baby children in a stroller and is interrupted in her ordering by an older, maybe-four-years-old, daughter’s exclamations of joy over the inflated pink guitar she’s found in the toy bin. It’s nearly as tall as she is. She wiggles excitedly in her unbuckled pink Velcro shoes. The barista doesn’t wait until the double stroller rolls away to take my order and ask for payment.

Today I could have waited for that. We all could have waited.

Outdoors, it is a read-in-a-long-sundress day. At 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature has my always-cold self languishing in comfort, while an occasional trickle of sweat between my crossed legs gives me the mildest of sympathies for those who suffer at such degrees. My “light” reading about Syria is interrupted by the conversation of three young women discussing the transformation one of them has undergone in giving up her wild ways—she never did drugs though—in order to live according to her real values. If I were somewhere else in the world today, perhaps I wouldn’t understand them enough be distracted from the printed words before me.

Some little brown birds whose name I should probably know hop occasionally onto my table. I like these birds. In France where I’m supposed to be right now, such fellow patrons would have been pigeons. I didn’t realize that I’ve missed, even if only mildly, these little brown hoppy souls.

Bienvenue, common little birds. À table!




Kami Rice, Culture Keeper’s managing editor, moved to southern France in 2012 to study French for a semester or two. Years later she’s still in France, and her French is still frustratingly imperfect. Being based in Europe, presently at the base of the Pyrenees in Pau, makes it easier to explore the world, courtesy of the friends who welcome her into their far-flung homes. She aims to cover international stories with as much nuance and as little caricaturing as possible. Follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter.