For me, it’s never really been difficult to leave a place. People, yes. But the physical presence of a space, though moving and innately connected to my awareness, has never been something of a loss. I might have felt some sadness or remorse at the destruction of a place, knowing I can never go back, but that’s different. To leave a home or a school or meeting place is only a temporary goodbye. Even if you never return, the possibility of being in that space again remains.
This time it’s different. This move is rough, a little bit abrasive, and only too nostalgic. Perhaps a part of that is the sense of knowing in this case too I can never go back. The physical space of the apartment I just spent my last night in will never again be the same space for me. I may return to that geographic location, and it may seem very similar to a place i once lived. Ultimately however, there will be a sense of loss attached to it as well.
For that reason I would like to highlight some of my favorite tiny fragments of living in ‘the beautiful hill’ for the past year:
1) The Indian couple I pass every day on the way to work with their hair dyed the same color of vermilion. They are an older couple. I know they live not far from the bus stop, because I’ve seen them working in the garden there on the weekends, but every morning they walk back up a hill towards my apartment. She is always wearing a sari, and always takes the lead on the narrow sidewalk. I wonder if this is indicative of their relationship, or only of the husband’s slower heaving bulk. I know there is a story there, though I haven’t had time to thread it out. Yet.
2) My favorite staff people at the Dunkin’ Donuts on the corner. Ok, there have been several, especially as there is some staff turnover, but almost all of them are nice and smile. I remember the first time one of them called out my order before I could even speak. I suppose I’m a creature of habit. Still, it’s nice to think that there’s at least one place in the world where I could go in and order ‘the usual’ and they would actually know what I meant.
3) Ok, this one is a bit obvious, but I’m going to share it anyway. The stone wall all along one sidewalk. It’s an utterly ridiculous wall made up of a haphazard jumble of rocks with thick concrete for mortar. It’s supposed to be a retaining wall similar to those old-country dry stone walls with no mortar, but without the need to rebuild the wall every year. Unfortunately, since the original builder didn’t pick stones that actually fit together (instead I think he picked the most pointy-outy stones), the wall falls apart every year anyway. Stones chunk out due to the pressure of earth and water building up behind them, and have to be concreted back in again. I love the chinks that form in it, the slow dynamic process of the wall coming apart and being remade. I love the succulents that cling to it with little root, sucking up water and twisting themselves into odd shapes and new blooms.
4) Being at the end of the bus line. Ok, some people wouldn’t like this because it means more time on the bus, and can be very isolating when you’re coming home late at night. But my bus is frequent, and I love being able to always step right onto it and get a seat. I love knowing that back corner of the bus is going to be available, so that when I’m carrying my life in a bag, I have someplace protected to tuck that life. I love sitting down and getting comfortable and knowing that I’m going to have enough time in that seat to really pull out my book, or even to get some typing done during NaNoWriMo.
5) Walking to the Watertown (Free Public) library. The walk itself is nice, with about half of it occurring in planted and maintained green space. Even on hot days, it’s not too bad, especially if you have some water. I mean, it would be better if my personal library was infinitely large, but borrowing from someone else for free is a nice compromise. Plus, so far the library seems to have more books that I want than any nearby branch except the Boston Central one, with is a bit of a pain to get to. Not sure what I’m going to do now – the Somerville library just doesn’t cut it. Plus, there’s that cool spooky old house (condemned) just off the back parking lot. I guess that should be a separate thing, though.
6) That creepy old (condemned) house.
7) Homeless Abe Lincoln. Seeing a homeless man is not usually a high point of my life, but when he is the spitting image of Abe Lincoln, you take note. I mean, Honest Abe was not an attractive bloke, but he definitely had what qualifies as an ‘interesting’ face. And seeing that same face with dirty, unkempt clothing below it is even more eye-catching. Homeless Abe is one of those intriguing enigmas I have yet to solve. Sure, he dresses like crap, but he has a slew to tech gadgets that could be redeemed for laundry fees, I’m sure – iPods, Blackberrys, and high-end cell phones among others. And he must live somewhere near me (or else camps out in a local dumpster) because I’ve ridden with him to the end of the bus line several times.
I’m sure there are more tidbits I’m missing, but even though it’s Friday and my boss is out, I do need to do SOME work today. So I’ll leave you with these 7 to ponder.