I took a good, long walk today because I was really wanting to be out in the fresh air, and I was really wanting to be out where people were.
(I still was really wanting to spend the day with just myself, too - you know?)
And I walked, deciding against the subway even though the wind made it feel quite cold. I really was needing to stretch my legs, and really was needing to breath in some crisp air.
I put my headphones in, and adjusted the volume, choosing to play Johnny Cash because I felt in the mood to listen to some short stories as I walked past old buildings and wondered who was in there, and what it looked like inside.
And I took the time to stop here and there, and casually browsed through shops along the way, saving the bookstore for the very last stop; resolving already to buy at least one - and maybe more - if I found ones on sale at a reasonable price. And as usual I stayed much too long, reading the inside flaps of some books I had no intention of buying, but liking the feeling of taking my time and of not having to be anywhere anytime too soon.
But when I thought I was all done, and started the walk back, I took an unexpected turn off the street to get home. It wasn't planned beforehand and as a matter of fact, I wouldn't have thought to do it at all - except I caught sight of a familiar name on a street sign out of the corner of my eye. And it wasn't really on my way, but I couldn't help but remember the house number... and I really was wanting to see the place where you lived with adult eyes; the place I used to think was so unique, so austere; the place with the brightly coloured drinking glasses and a black and white tiled bathroom with a claw foot tub.
I stayed on the far side of the street so that I could really take the whole house in once I arrived at it. And when I did, I stood for a little bit, happy to see that it was still very cared for and that it still had the same heavy wooden front door, the same wide steps leading up to it - and the same beautiful stained glass windows. I noticed a child's red wagon on the porch and thought how nice that a family lives here now - and will this child feel that this house is unique and austere, too? Did they replace the black and white tile in the bathroom? Do they still have the claw foot tub?
Then I turned quickly and walked back the same way that I had come, just as Johnny Cash began to tell a new story. It was "Hurt". And I felt suddenly very emotional as I looked back at your narrow side door, and the little garage in back. My mind began to swim, and I remembered when we would drive up your street, how excited I felt; the dark woodwork in your hallway, the green candy dish, the tiny pipe-cleaner bumblebees in the plant on your dining room table.
And just then, a lady jogged past me, and then to my right, I noticed a gentleman with a dog on his driveway. It occurred to me how that lady jogging past and the gentleman with a dog had no idea what I was thinking; had no idea what house 400 on this street meant to me. They had no idea what I was remembering, or who I was remembering, and that in this moment, walking with my headphones on, that I, who looked so unfamiliar to them on this street, quite possibly had much more of a history here than even they do; that really, I felt so very at home on this sidewalk.
I was a little girl again on the inside, but I was dressed in an olive coloured coat and black Converse, grown up on the outside.