Making the Rounds.
In some sense I feel like I'm taking the pulse of the place as I make my rounds. It's generally quiet and I notice a distinct lack of walkers. Obviously that varies according to the time of year and day that I set out. There's a nice little playground a few blocks down my street that often has activity when it's warm out. They've even built an upside-down fountain for kids to frolic under and get wet. I make a point not to look too closely at the kids as I pass by, because I don't want to come across as "the creep". Still it's nice to see children with their parents swinging or crawling on the monkey bars. I've often wondered how much time I'll spend there with Baby E. as he gets older.
Down the line I veer off through an alley, connect to the main thoroughfare, and watch the cars speed into town as they approach the first stoplight. I cross the lot of the beer distributor and turn up through one of the two main manufacturing areas. There is rarely anyone about at that end. Tucked along the nondescript buildings are two houses at the bottom of the hill, below the highway. It strikes me that it would be kind of cozy to inhabit one of those domiciles, with good friends living next door. There's very little in the way of passersby, and virtually no traffic. You'd never be bothered, and could do whatever you wanted with the privacy. Up the road is the boy scout camp that cuts into a ravine intersecting the hill. But I don't proceed that way.
I climb the steepest section of my walk and check out the cottages that push right up against the street. There is also a large warehouse where I believe they keep horses. Often I see the carriage parked along the curb. Then I come back down into the flats and continue along the row-houses. As I progress westward, the housing values drop and structures look increasingly beaten and worn. It's along this stretch that I generally see people hanging out. I may nod now and again, but I usually keep to myself. The residents are hard and often look much older than their years. Sometimes I keep my eyes down. I found twenty bucks once that way. More frequently I see empty cigarette packs and empty plastic bottles.
When I hit the drive-through bank with its accompanying lot, I double back toward my house. I saunter along the brick sidewalk and check out the shops. I look in the window of the karate school, and peep the drunks at their various barstools. Most of the businesses along Main are useless for my needs. One sells cleaning services, another displays windows and doors, and a third is a drop-off for an online auction site. As I get closer to home I pass a couple good restaurants, the pizza shop, and my mechanic. As I return to my street, I cross to the south side so as not to walk directly in front of the funeral home (superstition). When I reach my front porch, I take a seat on a plastic chair and light a smoke, just a bit weary from mild exertion.