A Walk Around the Block

It’s pretty smooth sailing till I get to the halfway point. Three blocks worth of sidewalk thoroughly cracked. A long gash running like a chasm to forever. “Well, Nothing’s perfect, you know” and “It could be worse, I suppose.”

Sometimes smaller cracks meander like new rivers wanting to go their own way, breaking off from the main. It’s always that way. “One damn thing leads to another,” I mutter, and note the brown stains where people had futilely tried to seal the small initial breaks.

There are periodically intentional squares with construction names and years inside. 1978. Imagine that. The walk was once new, pristine and crackless in ’78. What did the neighborhood look like with new houses shooting up, mud all over the road from trucks and installed front yards? Who once walked her in ’78 who is no more? In ’78, we lived several blocks over in a condo, and dreamed of owning a bigger place. I was writing my first textbook and on my way to 20+ more. I still had parents; my wife hers. The kids went to the elementary school down the street. I still taught in my first city school.

I took my grandson for a walk here last year. Small dogs yapped from front windows, performed their territorial guardianship. He followed and walked on the big crack from beginning to end. It was a diversion, a delight for a three-year-old. He asked me a lot of How come’s as we went. I pointed out planes descending overhead for the airport, a mangy cat rolling in the road dust and stones, the gutters where he eventually dragged his boots, forgetting his original cracked route.

Today I remembered our dog and how she liked to do the circuit, sniffing the spring air, and barking back at those window yappers. I remember being 30 years younger, trying to recall if the sun felt any warmer, and all the many plans I once made.

The fantasy was enough to make the walk shorter today. I noticed there was smooth sidewalk once I hit the home stretch as there had always been and entered the crescent by natural instinct., automatic-pilot And I noticed three cracks that never used to be on my driveway, and how all this somehow pertained to who I was and how change had had its way with me and all that had once seemed so whole.

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