By the time I locked the door on my shitty little house and embarked on my mile long pedestrian commute through this crime-ridden, litter-strewn, drug-infested, shitty neighborhood, I was in good spirits. I was even running early.
I had woken up an hour and a half earlier to see dust motes dancing in the filtered sunlight which rested gently on the pukish ocher walls. I was feeling particularly well rested and, remarkably, none of my body parts were complaining yet.
I chose a pair of unflattering sweat pants and an ill-fitting old event shirt from the pile of ugly clothes kept in a box under the bed, remnants of a previous life, then ventured outside with the dog. Even at this early hour, I had expected to see an assortment of people and things for my dog to loudly comment on. Constructions crews have been working diligently for weeks to remove all the parking on the other side of the street and the workers are often already artfully placed throughout the debris by the time the dog and I make our way outside in the morning. This morning, we were greeted by a street eerily devoid of people. I was pleasantly surprised. The dog sniffed around a bit and finally found a suitable plant to water; he was on high alert, but mercifully quiet.
We were back inside enjoying breakfast while watching the news, when the kindly old weatherman spoke to me. Standing in front of a big, cartoonish, image of the sun, he reasonably and convincingly explained to me that this would be a great day for me to walk to work; probably the best day all week. He certainly had a good point. Maybe I would, if I had time.
Pretending to be unaware that life is finite, I frittered away my precious remaining hour by washing the laundry and hanging it to dry, emptying the dishwasher and then refilling it, and making myself appear socially appropriate. I still had thirty minutes left, which is how I found myself walking to work.
I made my way down the too narrow driveway, squeezing past the compact car that I would usually be driving to work. By this point the orange and yellow striped men had appeared and small groups of them were contemplating holes and piles of dirt, as though unable to comprehend how they were related. I left them to solve that puzzle on their own and made my way across the weed choked cracks shattering the sidewalk. Along the way the clear, sunlight filled air highlighted features I had not noticed before; vibrant tulips attempting escape through a rusty chain link fence, a fresh crop of sunny dandelions perched atop a mostly completed retaining wall, a flattened rodent.
As I reached the corner, I offered a smile to the worker defending the North perimeter of the construction area. Too occupied with thanking himself, he did not acknowledge my presence. Perhaps he was using Bluetooth. In any event, I escaped the construction zone unchallenged and continued on my path. On a fair day, the route I take is pretty nice. Over the course of a mile, I work my way a few blocks over, past crumpled Marlboro boxes and empty 40 oz glass containers, to the nicer houses on the ridge, then descend a long steep staircase famous for armed robbery of schoolchildren. The last mugging was almost a year ago, though, and the goat-cleared vegetation has grown back into a dense, waist-high thicket.
The road to the staircase is slightly downhill. I’ve never seen a cyclist on this road, perhaps because the official bike route is two streets over, and I was surprised to see one today. As he approached, I saw his hand rise to his mouth and I was a bit awed by the fact that he was both riding his bike uphill and smoking at the same time. Something didn’t seem quite right about my assessment, though. He never took his hand away from his mouth and I never saw any smoke. When he reached me and began to pass, harmonica music filled the air and I suddenly understood. This young man was spending his sunny morning riding his bike up a hill while playing the harmonica for an audience of one. We pretended not to notice each other, but I spent the rest of my walk quietly contemplating various life events that might eventually lead one to do such a thing.
This one isn’t a story, exactly. It’s just a description of my morning. It happened exactly like described above and I used the experience to practice my descriptions. Originally, I thought it might evolve into a story, but a plot never presented itself. I decided to go ahead and post it anyway as an example to anyone interested of how I practice writing.