I’m crying as I type this, in only the way that you can cry when something you hold dear has been hurt.
Eastern Market is hurt. Last night, or sometime early this morning, it burned down. Certainly it happened after the hard copy deadline for the Post.
The structure is still there, but it will take possibly months of reconstruction before it can go back to normal.
When I got the email from E:) about it, I couldn’t believe it. I was hoping she got the wrong Eastern Market at first (there is one in Detroit– why couldn’t it be that one?).
I guess I never knew just how much I loved Eastern Market until this morning.
Many places get billed as "magical."
Many places hold flea markets.
And certainly, tons of places sell produce and folksy art.
But I don’t think I’d ever seen a place where all this and more happens and with such a happy panache and flair.
When my two darling Meow men and I were on the verge of moving to DC, the apartment we were thinking of renting boasted proximity to the market. I was intrigued about it. I imagined a humble place, actually– maybe just some itinerant stands, or perhaps something resembling more like a Circle K than a traditional market. But the more I read, the nicer it sounded.
And then came the happy Saturday morning –our second day here– where we saw the beauty and the chaos and the glory that is an Eastern Market weekend.
"Sold American!" as they say.
Over the past fourteen months, that building has been a meeting place; a paradise for my inner gourmand; the place where we bought the $75 worth of crown roast of lamb which we proceeded to inexpertly bake for Christmas dinner with good friends; an oasis of cool shade during one of the many walks I’ve taken with Herr Meow down that little pergola on its eastern face; a place for Herr Meow to score free bananas with produce too; a past-blog-entry backdrop and inspiration; and a place to provide a landmark in mind and heart.
Those two simple words create an identity within the town; something powerful that brings people close. I like to say it: my Metro stop is Eastern Market.
(Oh, okay, okay, so it could also be Potomac Avenue, but unfortunately nothing in that area burned down. And by that I mean that the Potomac Gardens is possibly one of the more poorly-designed building complexes in this area– and believe me, the Department of Education gives it a run for its money. And no, it’s not because it’s a project that I scorn it: it’s because it’s u-g-l-y. Don’t the underprivileged also deserve nice architecture?).
I refuse to believe that this fire will mean the end of our beloved Market. I hope that all vendors will come back next weekend, and that we try to keep a business-as-usual attitude, while the inside is restored and healed again.
Just yesterday, Rev. Mom and I were taking in all the sights and sounds of the place, and buying some treasures from the vendors– a fun CD for kids called "A Lion’s Grocery List", some beautiful prints from a Mongolian artist, and some amazing moisturizer from a company called Berry Butter (I heartily recommend the Tropical Paradise… oooh! You’ll want to eat yourself when you’re done slathering it on!). The Berry Butter folks had their stand on the southern face of the market, and as we finished our transaction and set on foot again, I remember looking past a few yards to the garbage cans.
At the time, it was a meaningless gaze and resting of my eyes. But now I can’t help but think that it was there that the fire started, and there is an irrational guilt bubbling inside of me– could we have all stopped this from happening? Why did it have to burn? What did the market ever do to anyone?
And why didn’t I go back and buy some more thick bacon with the skin on from the Canales Meat Market?