in the neighborhood

The afternoon light is bright and clear after days of a low grey sky. I take my camera out and walk my usual beat around the canal. The massive Paulownia trees that used to shade the empty lot at the end of my block have been torn down. I spend a while photographing their remnants, the stumps and branches still embedded in the rusty fence.

A couple approaches me, the man is wearing some kind of goggles. His hair is curly and springs out from under the goggle-strap. He starts talking. He asks which way to the big graveyard, and I point down the avenue, “It’s a long walk, though.”

“That’s ok, it gets rid of the stress.” The woman nods and pulls him by the hand, but he’s not done here, not at all. He reads my hoodie and asks, “What’s ‘wake up‘ is that a political thing?”

“No I just made it. Like, we should all wake up.” Before I’ve even finished he’s racing on, you have to imagine this, it’s unending, and utterly without inflection.

“Oh are you into Buddhism because I’ve been reading this guy who tells it all in stories about four animals and how you’re supposed to see your life like a movie and let it be in the past and that helps with the stress you know what I mean.” She tugs his arm again. “See here I go I’m not walking yet so it’s not helping with the stress and I guess we should go but I’m still talking.”

She’s tugging harder. She smiles at him, without frustration. She puts an arm on his shoulder and turns his body toward the avenue.

He’s wearing a varsity jacket, and when she pivots him around, I see that it’s got the name of my high school on the back. Not my year, I’m sure of it. I’d remember that.


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