Saturday, February 10, 2007

Walking

The List looked too long and far too mundane tonight, so I took a walk. It was snowing, sort of, more of a mist with occasional thick wet flakes that melted instantly wherever they landed. It felt and looked like a loose, halting rain, and town looked sort of glossy and nice. I started out in what I think of as Old Town, went past the library and stone churches and the old junior high and the neat rows of houses on the hill, but I wound up walking up Main past Kate's and crossing Front to take the underpass under the railroad tracks, then turned left down County Road, where I suppose I intended to go all along.

I had to go talk to the small, tidy gray house at 237 County Road and explain why Monday morning I have to call Gail and tell her I'm not going to make an offer to buy it, even though it has a two-car garage and a lovely garden and new siding and new electrical throughout and it would look fantastic with a red door. A woman, twenty-seven, feeling maybe ten, walking the night worrying about a tiny old house with cracked plaster walls dealing with rejection issues. And yet I walked away feeling certain and serene, if a little wistful. I'm sure we would have been very happy together.

And yes, Bekah, she stenciled the toilet seats. They're quite lovely. (Snicker.)

At China Mary Road I stopped on the bridge over the black Bear River, broken halfway open by the recent thaw, and imagined the old Chinese woman the street is named for hauling buckets up the hill to the laundry behind the Joss House. It must have been a bustling place, the dirt crossroads filled with wagons and people and dogs.

Back on Front Street I smelled Chinese food and cigarette smoke and heard Saturday night traffic and saw neon and if I closed my eyes I felt transported, somewhere urban and unwound, somewhere vivacious and unpredictable. And I guess that's part of why someone else will be calling 237 County Road home. In my columns the pros
(washer and dryer! bathtub! linen closet!) far outnumbered the cons, but one con weighed heavier than all the pros. And then there was my doubt. I don't want to feel at all reluctant when I hold my hand out for a key.

I walked past the new monument at the Fire Hall and noticed a plaque dedicated to Darrell Staley, Bud's best friend, who was electrocuted on the 4th of July in 1988 while rescuing a cat. The plaque had
a little brass oval door as did the other two on the wall and I opened it to find Darrell grinning back, decked out in full firefighting gear, surrounded by smoke, covered in ashes.

I could see the three lights on the front of the new plant up on the hill, a place of purgatory and salvation both at once. I also saw a pair of shoes
I want in the window at Sawaya's. I have to stop walking by there.

I walked back up the hill into my neighborhood, went a few blocks over to check the progress on the remodel of a big old house I particularly admire but would never want to have to clean. And then I went past Van Syoc's and Harvey's and up the next block to Jo's, and as soon as I saw the glow of the little house she and Don have poured their hearts into for over a decade, I was sure. If I'm going to buy a house in this town, it's going to be that one. And I wonder why people are so driven to own a pile of sticks and shingles or bricks and tin perched on a hollow block of concrete. Nothing really belongs to us.

Two more blocks and I could see this house, this peach, pointed behemoth divided up inside like an ice cube tray. There was a light on in every window, and it looked so inviting that I had to stop and enjoy it. And inside it's warm and welcoming and familiar, and I feel safe and sort of cradled in my basement and no longer so alone. And I guess I'll sleep better than I have in a week since I've finally made a decision.

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