… or, really, just “on the street.” One thing I love is running into people I know when I’m in a place where I don’t feel at home. I love the way those little meetings snap me back into place, let me feel a little more comfortable as I continue on my way. They happen in funny, weird ways sometimes — running into a guy I went to college with while I was in the crush of the crowd at Palio in Siena, running into the bassist from an obscure Czech rock band as I walked down a street in Paris — but I can be just as pleased by the ‘ordinary’ meet-ups, by seeing people I know when I’m walking around here, at home. The neighborhood where I work is incredibly diverse — Latino, Asian, Arab, Irish, Italian … But I do tend to stand out, to look a little unexpected on the street. And usually I don’t notice it, or it doesn’t feel odd or awkward. But sometimes it does. So it pleases me that I’m always and always running into students on the street, that there always seems to be someone out and about who knows me. I’ve been in this job six years, and we have worked with a lot of people in that time, so it’s not so surprising that I know a lot of people in the neighborhood, but running into them outside of school still gives me a little poke of pleasure. And those little pokes are even nicer when they happen during weeks like this one when I’m feeling rushed and harried and longing for a vacation day. To see someone’s face light up at the sight of me, to have someone smile and show me her new baby pleases me enormously, makes me feel right at home. As I walked to class last night, I ran into a young woman who’d been in our GED program last year. She had really struggled with various health issues and had a hard time maintaining her attendance. We hugged when we saw each other and were surprised to find that we were heading to the same place — the school where I teach at night is our local GED testing center, and Dee had taken her test in October and was going to pick up her results.