Originally, I was planning on walking down to Pennsylvania Avenue to see the popemobile drive by, but as the morning went on, I decided against it, not wanting to stand amongst a crowd of strangers waiting for what I assumed would be a long time. I knew that events normally run on longer than anticipated, so figured that it was impossible to come at just the right time. It turns out I was wrong. Perhaps Bush and Benedict did not get along so well, because if anything, the pope made his way across town earlier than expected.
I ate my lunch, with only a tinge of regret for having missed a chance to see a real, live popemobile in action. I was walking up the street after lunch on a beautiful day, when I heard a woman’s voice behind me saying, with a lilting southern accent: “Did you get to see the pope?”
I saw no one else on the corner, so assumed that she might be talking to me, and that she must in that case be someone I knew. But that was not the case; she was a stranger. A woman about my age, fairly short, with grey/black hair in pigtails, clear-rimmed glasses, dressed basically in black and holding a small tote bag.
She was upbeat, and talked to me like I was an old friend. She was on her way to Trader Joe’s, she told me, when at the last minute she decided to make a detour and see the pope. She was obviously very glad that she did. He was in his “L-shaped contraption” and was waving to the people. “It was sort of surrealistic”, she said.
Then (still waiting for the light to change), she told me that she was from a “small, red-neck town in West Texas, where everyone is a Baptist”. No one there knows anything about the pope, she said. “If I told any of them that I saw the pope today”, she said, “they would lookat me like I was a little crazy, and tell me, ‘No, you didn’t. That would be impossible. I remember when the pope died.'”