The Well-Walked Neighborhood
I have lived in this place for five years now. It is the longest such run of my life. Even in a contented childhood, my people always picked up before reaching this point. Stability is not something I’m used to and perhaps something I’m sheepish about. I am a man on the move, after all, with a reputation to uphold.
In staying so long, I’ve fallen into a relationship with the place. I’ve walked this lattice of streets some 5,000 times or so, my trusty mutt in tow, cataloging the charms and annoyances around me. For instance, there is that woman from the screened-in porch who never lets us pass without notice. “Hey, Handsome!” she will yell, and when I turn to wave, she quickly adds, “Not you … I’m talking to the dog!” We have had this exact exchange a hundred times or more.
There are the boys at the rescue mission, perched atop picnic tables, who observe me with a stern reserve. Every once and again one of them will spontaneously wave and smile, a reminder to each of us that, in the end, we’re just two dudes out here in the world.
Then there are the skies, some bright and blue, some faded and worn, and others brimming with tension and uncertainty. They always bring me to a stop, head cocked, awed and grateful.
And there is the beaming redhead back at the artist studios, where our walks often conclude, who greets us with a smile so warm and inviting I want to settle onto the concrete floor and lean against the cushion of her presence. The mutt and I wave shyly and move on lest we give ourselves away.
And another day clicks into its slot, a snapshot among thousands in this swirling mosaic of everyday life.