I got up to pee, and I thought, I’m off the couch. I can make myself go out now.
And I did!
It was incredible.
The desire to remain at home lingers, post-covid. Post all the recent traumas.
But I was up!
And down the stairs, and out.
One house down, the cement bird bath with the cement little girl and the cement little boy peeking over at how there is no water.
Two houses down, I heard Mexican music. The big stone house with the amazing carriage house was getting work done on its side. A guy up a ladder in a face mask (debris? chill?).
Across the street, I opened our library box and a book jumped out. “Rude,” I said, replacing it. I saw there was a Nora Ephron book in there, one I hadn’t read, so I grabbed it.
Armour Boulevard began life as a luxurious procession of apartment buildings. The first time I lived on it, though, it was mostly a fumbling procession of Section 8 and ambulances. I liked it fine that way. Now it’s a procession of overpriced, poorly renovated apartments owned by a company in Chicago, a company that seeks tax breaks. Now it has bike lanes.
It pleases me to walk it, though, because I can remember I live in a city, in the city, just the kind of cityness I prefer, rather Brooklyn-y in that I can walk to get coffee or drinks or dinner or to a park, but also there are many trees and gardens and weird things to observe, like the Costco shopping carts, who congregate and dissipate mysteriously at Armour and Gillham.
I close my eyes, and I see them wheeling smoothly down Gillham, like swallows to San Juan Capistrano.
And then someone in the dark of night kidnaps them. Probably someone who works at Costco, someone who wants the overtime. They build one long train of carts, and inch by inch, back up the slight hill to the Costco parking lot. This part isn’t like birds, it’s like Sisyphus.
At the coffee place, I study the pastries. Chocolate croissant is preferable here, but I could settle for a chocolate chip muffin, if that’s what that is (God forbid it is some bran/healthy brown situation).
A man hurries up to the counter. “She was here first,” barista says.
“It’s okay,” I said. “I’m not in a hurry.”
The guy was short, and Black, and wore a big coat and a face mask. “Mfjddkjkf,” he said.
“Sorry, what?” the barista.
“Mfjkdsfjk,” he said.
“Sorry, the bathroom is only for customers.”
“Okay, then, okay, fine,” the man said, and pulled some dollar bills out. He pointed at a cookie. “I’ll take one of those.”
“Okay, that’s $3.65,” barista said.
The man grumbled about the price of a cookie, very understandable. He had gestured at a sign that said, “Protein balls, $1.50,” but I didn’t see any balls, and what’s more, were people seriously selling something called “protein balls”? That was just as crazy as a $3.50 cookie.
“I’ll get my cookie later,” the man said. The barista went to get him a bathroom key, and the man hustled to the bathroom.
I ordered, and then I asked for a bathroom key. “If there’s more than one,” I said, and barista gave me a key.
Once inside the bathroom, I heard the man yelling and screaming, “DON’T MAKE ME COME BACK THERE. THE FUCK YOU WILL. I DON’T KNOW WHY YOU FUCKING CAN’T DO WHAT YOU FUCKING SAY YOU WILL, BUT I WILL DO WHAT I NEED TO DO”
I wondered if he was screaming into a FaceTime, or a phone call, or an Instagram, or what.
When I left the bathroom, he was still screaming.
I thought about times I was out and about and about to lose it completely. I’m generally very quiet about though. I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
I sat back with my Nora Ephron book, hoping to see if the man would return the bathroom key or not.
But I got too into the book, and then I left and forgot to peek at the counter.
On the way home, a golden retriever licked my hand. “Are you going that way?” the owner asked me.
“Could you go ahead, because otherwise she’ll keep turning around to look at you?”
“Sure,” I said, feeling like a celebrity, at least to one dog.