Rhythm of the Neighborhood

by Susan on June 10, 2009

My office is really hot in the morning, and I face a window through which streams the bright morning sun. The woman across the street is running an informal (illegal?) daycare business. At regular intervals, her customers appear to drop off and pick up little children. Every time she sees me observing this, she glances furtively around and throws me a shy little wave.

There is an elderly lady who walks slowly from her house to the bus stop at odd times. I’m not sure where she’s going. She doesn’t seem to be gone very long. I feel like she is too old to have a job, but I can’t imagine what else would have her taking these small, shuffle-y steps up and down the street in the hot sun.
Our neighbors in the two houses across the street from us are defensively picking the wild blackberries that grow on the edges of their yards, to keep me away from them. Fine by me – I’ve found a huge patch a few streets over that no one pays attention to, anyway. It’s in between two vacant houses that have been for sale for months. I guess the owners can’t get the yard cleaned up.
The mail gets delivered mid-morning during the week and late afternoon on the weekends. I’m wondering if the mail carrier likes to sleep in on Saturdays. I’m always excited when the mail comes these days, and I love putting up the flag when I have some outgoing mail, which is a lot more often than it used to be.
An older man walks a long distance, past our house and down our street and down another street. He is always dressed in white, but it doesn’t look like a uniform. I see him day and night making this treck. Once, our dog chased him down the street at 2am. I can’t figure out what he’s doing, but I know it isn’t something fun. His walk is slow and measured, and he carries a bag that looks really heavy. His back is bent over as he makes his way deliberately up the hills of the streets around my house.
When we walk in the morning, I see the unwanted items people set out on the sidewalk for the trash or trash-picking neighbors. Even when it’s something I don’t want, I find myself itching to take it. I guess some people aren’t feeling the recession as much as others. Or maybe they just don’t know how not to consume – maybe they have to unlearn the idea that everything they have can (and should) be replaced on a regular basis. I know that I have only recently stopped feeling the overwhelming urge to buy things to fill up the rooms in my house. I started feeling more full when I started working for myself, stopped needing to fill the spaces with the rewards of commerce. I think I’m full from drinking in the rhythm of the people working on my street, these people trying to make their way.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Seth June 10, 2009 at 5:50 am

I've been reading every day since I've known abot your blog. This is probably my favorite entry. And I think that's the first typo I've ever read from you. Not bad, after 15 years!

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