The neighborhood I'm living in right now is made up of two streets that make a decent exercise circle, with several cul-de-sacs and cut throughs in between. I can get around the whole thing twice in a little under half an hour. It's not four miles on an elliptical with Davidson buzzing in the big mirrors around me, but it's fresh air and sidewalks and hills and space.
And this is a legit NEIGH-BOR-HOOD. As in, there are people walking around in the rich autumn light, taking out their trash, walking their dogs, skateboarding, parents with their toddlers (I saw what looked like two 3-year-olds on scooters today. Um, I got a scooter when I was eleven. And even then I fell down)... I feel very much a part of it and very much not all at once. About how I feel anywhere these days.
Huge whispery trees tower over the houses and in some stretches it's already dusky and dreamful by the time I pass through around six o'clock. Today, coming around a corner, I was struck by the heavy full sunlight that dappled a particular front yard.
It was so bright that I couldn't even look directly at the folks standing there -- I only caught a glimpse of the father sitting on the front steps, and the mother pushing her daughter on the (tire? rope?) swing.
"Higher, Mama! Hiiiiiiigher!" Four years old, maybe? Five? With a desire to be taller and higher, to fly.
I kept walking, no ipod on this trip to muffle her ringing happy voice, and as I pounded on further --
"I saw her, Mama. I saw her."
"I know you did, sweetheart."
"I saw her walking, and I bet she's ready to go home."
Oh, honey child sweet little girl with your high-hoping headful of swinging sunshine, the nail has a head and you just smashed it. And I don't know why I didn't turn around to tell you so.
But I didn't. I kept walking, up the hill and past the house with the huge fake goose standing guard (holy crap that thing looks real, I did a double take the first time), her words echoing, a slight smile on my face. Completely understood by a little girl who has a long time before she walks down an unfamiliar street with pockets full of shade and sun.
Hope I can say thanks next time.