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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Days Are Just Like Moments Turned To Hours

Walking back-and-forth to work these past couple of weeks has been an interesting experience. While on the one hand I'm traversing very familiar territory, on the other, the simple process of moving myself from Point A to Point B each morning and back again each evening has started to give me a little bit more of a solid connection to the neighborhood in which I spend most of my time.

Typically this time of year, the weather has ranged from bright-and-sunny and very chilly, all the way to rain blowing sideways in sheets - and very chilly. Having lived in this part of the country my entire life this isn't really a big deal; I've got enough foul weather gear to handle a trans-oceanic voyage, and I recently purchased a very cheap pair of velcro-strapped walking shoes, simply for the convenience of having something that is: comfortable, stays dry, and is easy to slip on-and-off once I get to work, where I keep two pair of "regular shoes" stashed beneath my desk. So, regardless of the weather conditions walking the route between my apartment and my office is relatively easy and doesn't result in my arriving at either terminus looking - and feeling - like a drowned rat.

I've tried to vary my route ever so slightly each trip, just to give myself some variety, as well as to get a little better sense of what sorts of things are around me that, in more than 5 years living in the same place, I perhaps have overlooked. I'm trying to be more observant, more aware of my surroundings, taking note of what's there, and more importantly what sorts of things are absent.

Seeing as my path takes me from the edge of the Central District (traditionally, the center of Seattle's African American Community) up over the back side of what used to be known as "Second Hill" ( a description that's long been in disuse), down into the heart of the Pike-Pine Corridor (a sub-district of the surrounding Capitol Hill neighborhood), generally past the Theatre, across Broadway, the major north-south corridor through this part of town, and finally the short descent down the front side of the Hill to where my office is located, just east of I-5 (Important Assimilation Tip: Washingtonians NEVER preface this with "the" as in "the I-5" or "the 5" - that's how we spot the Californians in our midst).

Of course there's the usual things I pass by nearly every day: the Ethiopian restaurant on my corner, the partially abandoned gas station, the bike store and yoga studio and coffee shop right across the street; the Lamborghini/Mazerati dealer; the police precinct, the soccer field, community college, etc., etc. But, if I veer off just a block or so at any point I find myself turning unfamiliar corners, or noticing an establishment that I didn't realize existed until just then: the wrought iron foundry, the hydrolics repair shop, the print bindery, the chiropractor, the auto detailer - dozens of small businesses quietly plying their trades in the back alleys and off-the-main thoroughfares where most of us seldom venture, or just completely overlook when we do.

There are a few places I wish I would discover: a really good deli/butcher shop, a full-service bakery (as opposed to, say, cupcake bakeries which seem to be sprouting up around town like mushrooms in a rain forest), a tailor's shop, a decent Chinese restaurant (Thai, Japanese/Sushi & Vietnamese we got plenty of already), a small electronics repair shop, a 24-hour diner (or at least one that serves after 10:00 p.m.), a greeting card store - just a handful of specialty businesses to round things out.

Maybe that's a little old-fashioned of me, but the whole idea of having the place where you live and work being within walking distance of each other seems like rather an old-fashioned idea that might be coming somewhat back into fashion - or at least seems like an idea that SHOULD come back into fashion.


Posted byCOMTE on 1:46 PM

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