Today I walked instead of driving. I’m a dedicated walker everywhere but at home. I don’t feel like I’ve been someplace unless I’ve taken public transportation. Subways are my favorite, trains come second, and I can occasionally be persuaded to take a bus. I’m afraid of ending up in the wrong place on a bus, though. Buses are the loose canons of public transportation. We don’t have subways or trains in Kansas City, which is the thing that sucks the most about living here. We do have buses, but they are dumber than boxes of rocks.
We have mansions, we have apartments, duplexes, houses falling in on themselves a little, houses beaming from careful attention. Many of our buildings are octogenarians, or older. I got a closer look at my favorite red brick Victorian mansion, and found one of a similar age (probably turn of the century) that had tall skinny apartment buildings grow up behind it. Just like that book, The Little House. Time goes on around you. That’s a damn sad book.
A gaggle of kids was racing across a grassy lot. When I was a kid, I didn’t know what an empty lot was. Every space where I grew up was owned, accounted for, counted and taxed and civilized. This lot probably had a falling-down condemned thing on it at one point, and now it has some nice scratchy grass.
As I approached, one of the littlest kids didn’t run with the others. She stood on the sidewalk as I passed her, looking google-eyed at me, like she was thinking, That lady is so big! I waved at her. She stared. She’s so big! I gave her a wide berth, in case she had stranger danger fears, and turned around once I passed to wave again. The same stare.
There is nothing in those Scientology windows except your own reflection.
On Main, there is an it’s cool you’re gay center, which I had heard about, but never noticed from driving by. I stopped to look in a shop window and saw a guy behind me. I turned around and looked him in the eyes and said, “Hey.” He had paint splattered work pants and was clearly not on the same channel as most of us started walking along behind me, speaking to me in a voice slightly too low to be conversational. Hey, we could get a beer. Hey, just give me your number. It was broad daylight, busy street, busy part of town, and he didn’t do anything that required me to assert myself, so I just kept walking. I can only recall one time a man scared me in public. Guy was grabby, clearly grabbier than I wanted him to be. I fled to the bathroom, and I lost him. Girls should have lessons in how to present themselves in public. Not like the Girl Scout lessons I got, on walking like a lady, but looking like a bitch and talking like a bitch you shouldn’t mess with.
Past the Pizza Hut pizza factory, the delivery guy had just opened the door, and stood there with his charges. I took a deep breath of pizza. Corporate pizza, the exact same pizza you’ve always eaten and it tastes the same all over the country, the world.
I’m a big snob about local stuff and experiencing new places, but on my first trip overseas, a week alone in Paris, I remember seeing a Pizza Hut and thinking, Oh, thank you, Jesus, I just want to order something I understand and something I know I can eat. I opened the door, and saw all they had were big pizzas. All other issues aside, I couldn’t afford a big pizza. I wanted to cry. Went back to my hotel room to psych myself up for another venture out into the city, seeking food that wasn’t French. French people aren’t vegetarian.
I passed the undertaker’s shop that got shut down for doing something terrible to dead bodies. I guess it wasn’t terrible enough for me to remember, though. And then I passed the most beautiful neon in the city, in the dry cleaner’s window. Glowing mustard, ice green, bluebird.
Things weren’t so different. More details. My car is so low to the ground that my vantage point was similar. And interacting with people on the street isn’t so weird this time of year. In a convertible, you’ll look at people, occupy similar space. And truth be told, I was moving only a little slower than in my car. I’m a fast walker.
At the post office, I caught up to a guy who appeared to be tuned into channel normal, and planned to ask his help if Mr. Space Cadet became a problem. But I didn’t have to. I crossed the street, and Cadet kept going straight. Onward.
That is why I moved to the city, though. People having to deal with each other. The threat of crackheads actually feels less dangerous to me than the threat of everyone sealed in separate houses screaming into pillows. The city laughs at perfectionism. The older it gets, the more the warts are out, and it helps me feel more comfortable showing mine. Not that I got any warts today. It wasn’t that interesting of a walk.