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By blixco (Thu Aug 07, 2008 at 12:48:43 PM EST) (all tags)
Though your doors prefer locks,
And your death prefers spoons,
Come step out your gate
One last laugh at fate,
Forever is too soon.

I was walking this morning, doing a lap around the neighborhood and a neighboring block. The wife jogs, taking a route through a local greenbelt trail that runs next to a totally dry creek. It hasn't rained here in forever, and that tropical storm was a joke that shouldn't even have lit the radar. It did cool off a bit, down to 98 or so.

The morning walk thing, I sometimes leave my iPod behind. The pre-dawn Austin is a raucous place if you live near a highway...I suspect most towns with bad traffic problems are like this. Everyone scrambles to escape traffic by leaving early. The people who have to be to work at 8 or 9 are the kind of people who live in the subdivisions, in the dread hinterlands between city center and village. They clog the highways starting at 5:30am or so, and they do the same at 3:30pm on the way back to their gated ghettos.

I live in one of those.  Not gated, mind. My neighborhood demographic is solidly working class hispanic and black, with a few of us child-less white couples who can't afford to live downtown, and a cluster of Vietnamese who live near the local Vietnamese Catholic church. It's a quiet neighborhood these days, but it has its moments. Recently there was a kidnapping, previous to that a shooting, and there are always robberies and domestic disputes. The police helicopter lights up the streets every other week or so.

The morning is a stuffy sort of quiet. The heat never really goes away, though it may be in the 80s at 6am it still feels like a warm wet towel around your throat.  The pace I walk, I tend to work into a sweat within a half mile or so, and am drenched by the time I get home.

Our resources in the neighborhood seem as tied up in our lawns and external appearances as any suburban neighborhood. The vehicles are mainly SUVs. The houses are well tended, lawns green and expensive in this heat and drought. A few of us have dead lawns...we water twice a week, which isn't enough to keep the grass alive but keeps the trees from dying. The houses that are the most well kept have sharp edges, bright green lawns, grease and oil free drives and burglar alarm signs everywhere. Motion sensing lights. Big well-bred well-fed dogs. Gloriously expensive trucks.

Ten of the houses I walk by are rentals.  They are shabby, in need of paint and lawn care and heavy maintenance. Cars crowd around the driveways, garages stuffed with stored artifacts of mid-American life or roommates. The cars are, if anything, more beautiful than the ones at the crisp new-looking houses. A brand new Porsche SUV sits in the driveway of a house that needs drapes, a house that until recently had a dog chained to the front tree. That's illegal now in Austin, so they turned the dog over the the shelter.

In the mix of houses are a few hippy places, overgrown with herbs and local plants, bees and bugs. Veggies, organic gardens bursting with chaotic life. Children tend to rule those places. Sidewalks in front of them are chalked to a rainbow of child graffiti. Ricky stinks! in big bright multi-hued letters gone over at least six times. I Love MOMMY! in a pink and blue flower with a bespectacled bee nearby.

Three different kinds of houses, four if houses with neatly pressed but slightly dead lawns are different than houses with neatly pressed but totally green lawns. Four different builders twenty years ago, so there are only eight basic floor plans, maybe three basic facades with minor variations. Every sixth one with at least one silver vehicle. Every third house has at least one kid. Some, more like ten, but minimum is one kid every three houses. A few, like my next-door neighbors, are multiple families: seven kids, four parents, two grandparents. Some are single parents. Some of us are just couples. Most of us work. All of the houses are six to ten feet apart, with back yards that vary in size but keep a neat row of cedar fence and dog, cedar fence, dog, cedar fence, trampoline, cedar fence, dog....

Out of all of us in our subdivision, 83 houses contain sex offenders.

Today, I walked by one of them and said hi.

To just be alive, despite whatever is lacking. To be alive and walking and breathing, pain free, un-troubled by the best of the worst. I know of too many that would give anything at all to be right there, walking. Because even the worst of that is better than the suffering last second too many of us have dealt with too often.

I'm here, now, and working on my head and my heart and the rest of it will have to wait until the fall. Right now I'm counting footsteps, and waiting for nothing.

< I was going to run last night... | Necessary 08-08-08 post >
Cashed. | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden)
I get that way on my walks some times too [nt] by riceowlguy (4.00 / 2) #1 Thu Aug 07, 2008 at 01:03:44 PM EST

Tuesday: by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #2 Thu Aug 07, 2008 at 02:48:54 PM EST
I dropped off my car at a shop and walked back to school to kill some time until the repair was done.
On the way, I walked past a trailer park. Sitting proudly under the carport of the shittiest single-wide I've ever seen was a late-model, sleek, silver Kompressor. I 'bout threw up in my mouth.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

One time by blixco (4.00 / 2) #3 Thu Aug 07, 2008 at 04:30:16 PM EST
way back in the early 90s, my friend Mark and I were headed to a Bonedaddys concert at the Tegua reservation.

We got lost in south-central El Paso, and discovered an axiom:

If you're in a trailer park (one with dirt roads), and you see a brand new Corvette with a chicken standing on it....

....leave. At the highest speed your car will take you, get the fuck out of there.
"You bring the weasel, I'll bring the whiskey." - kellnerin

[ Parent ]
Strange thing by Herring (4.00 / 1) #4 Fri Aug 08, 2008 at 05:36:07 AM EST
All the really upper class people I've known (the people whose great uncle is Lord <something>) have lovely big houses but the shittiest cars. Also uncontrollable Labradors.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
So many sex offenders by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #5 Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 04:12:21 AM EST
I have to assume that that is a good statistical sampling for all of Texas.

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
Nah. by blixco (4.00 / 1) #6 Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 04:54:20 AM EST
We're a poor-er zip code. More amenable to criminals and ex-cons.
"You bring the weasel, I'll bring the whiskey." - kellnerin
[ Parent ]
Hey! by jimgon (4.00 / 1) #7 Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 04:59:34 AM EST
I have to assume this is statistically representative of all of Texas. 

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
Hey man, don't mess with Texas by rizzo (4.00 / 1) #8 Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 10:16:52 AM EST
Cashed. | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden)