Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Dusk Comes Early
Today I'm thankful for the afternoons, between 3 and 6, when Hedgehog and I get to hang out and just be peaceful together. I pick her up at school, and this year she emerges tired and cheerful, and we walk home together hand in hand, and she chatters about her day and her friends and her homework. The walk home is lovely--our neighborhood is really charming, the streets lined with many very old and friendly trees and rows of brownstones, and lots of people we know to say hi to, and if one suspends one's bitterness about the cost of real estate (hard to do but worth the effort), one can enjoy the beauty of the walk.
It provides a sort of solace for me--I like constancy and routine and to be able to count on things; I've been in this neighborhood since birth, off and on but always as a home base, and through all its minor changes, I can still know for sure that the cracks on H-- Street are the same ones that used to catch the wheels of my roller skates, and that the supermarket where I buy chicken for Hedgie's soup used to have sawdust-covered floors where I did the marketing with my grandma and mom. In this neighborhood the ghosts are for the most part friendly, and if the memories bring an occasional teary feeling, well, I'd still rather be living among them.
So Hedgie and I walk and chat and do some errands and arrive home at our own rowhouse, one of the oldest in the neighborhood but much more humble in origin and appearance than many of the more stately homes. Ours, now cut off by the expressway, but once a waterfront house, once a boarding-house, and some even say a brothel, is red brick and tree-shaded, cozy and irregular with none of the Victorian excesses of the fancier brownstones. I'm always glad to come to its green door.
We walk upstairs--our house is upside down, with bedrooms on the bottom and kitchen and living areas on the top--we drag groceries up four flights, and Hedgie flings off her shoes, and flings down her blue knapsack covered in colorful little buttons and keychains, and snacks are eaten, orange juice drunk, dinner and homework begun, and through it all runs the thread of our companionship, of things to be counted on and taken for granted.