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  • Nora Koch

Lunch at the National Gallery

Updated: Aug 19, 2019

April 5, 2018



“We could get a table easier if we sat together.” This was the proposal of the well-dressed woman ahead of me in line, as I waited to be seated in the dining area of the National Gallery. So I agreed. I didn’t have much money, but I preferred a small amount of good food in a nice restaurant to bad food in a fast food place. We did get a table sooner. She was from New York and was fascinated to learn that I, from a small town in the Midwest, was in graduate school in Iowa. I think she felt sorry for me with my pitiful blow of soup, and insisted that I take half of her (very delicious) pâté. We had a pleasant hour together.


This reminded me of the year leading up to entrance into graduate school when I was working for the state of Wisconsin which at that time offered its employees exemplary insurance coverage. I’d been suffering from unrelenting hives and I went weekly to Turtle Island Health Center in St. Paul for acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments (Bob Dylan and Sting went there too). The treatment, in addition to a complete overhaul of my diet, did away with the hives and I never felt healthier. While I was in St. Paul each Wednesday for several months, between morning and afternoon treatments, I ate at St. Martin’s table in the West Bank area of Minneapolis where one could share a common table with strangers. I loved doing this, eating with strangers.


I was in Washington D.C. because I’d received a free plane ticket from the airlines due to a missed connection on a flight from Hartford Connecticut the previous summer; something that would never happen now. I knew immediately how I would use it – my friends, who I had just been visiting in Massachusetts, were spending a year in Washington D.C. on sabbatical beginning that fall. I spent a week visiting them there.

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