Saturday, March 29, 2008


Stepping off the final MARC commuter train for the week, I decide to disregard cautious intentions and brave the twelve-block corridor from Penn Station to my shared apartment in Charles Village. An hour and a half prior, I had departed from the company of a co-worker and his circle of friends after viewing some tournament games at some drinking establishment in Dupont Circle. And it was during the farewells in which I had received an abbreviated phone call from my potential ride home from the train station notifying me that there would be no ride home this particular evening. There were a few attempts to reconnect after the lost transmission, but they were futile and had fallen on deaf ears or silenced ringtones. My prospective intention was to hail a cab outside the station and transport myself to my front door in the hands of safety at the price of seven or eight dollars. However, I still had some adventure and whiskey left in me this evening, so it is with a clouded mind that I began this particular walk home on a clear evening/early morning back to my third floor apartment.

The first segment of this brief and familiar endeavor leads me past a stretch of row houses peppered with occupants or small businesses, but mostly, long abandoned or condemned. Buildings without consistent life whose insides, found behind layers of plywood covering the windows, I often picture as being shoddily furnished with crumpled newspapers, discarded wrapping of various articles of consumption, and other slighted trails left behind by the downtrodden seeking temporary cover. It is past these connected buildings that I reach a vacant lot at the corner of North Avenue where a handful of groups await the last buses of the evening to carry them to their last destinations of the day. At the corner I overhear some comment directed towards me concerning my jacket that I am unable to interpret, while I cross the four lanes of traffic with tunnel vision focused on the Baptist church on the adjacent corner. The next couple of city blocks are less lively, as the house of worship spans the entire first block and the next is shared by a parking lot where I cannot recall ever spotting an idled automobile, but I assume provides its service to the aforementioned church, and another stretch of semi-vacated row houses. On the front steps of one of the presumed occupied homes my upward gaze catches the eyes of a man about my age, who inquires to whether I may have a lighter, to which I reply that I do not and apologize. There is no acknowledgement, so the walk continues past some more recently renovated row houses where I have noticed an increase in residency since I began making this daily stroll sometime at the end of last summer. Looking forward, I cross the street and see two women whose scant attire brings to mind a different meaning to “night walking.” The two of them peer at me as I pass and one exclaims to the other that I look like someone or another, the subject of comparence I am unable to determine, because I am a bit surprised by the depth of this supposedly feminine voice. I’m still a bit mistaken as I proceed up Saint Paul and beyond two liquor stores, a twenty-four hour bail bondsman venue, and another figure adorning a plaid skirt and skimpish top who simply stares at me with some sort of fixed gaze that appears void of any real concentration.

After I pace by this final participant in my minor adventure, I embrace the solace of the homestretch and notice the presence and scent of the cherry blossoms appearing on the limbs of seemingly every tree in sight that protrudes from the square plots encompassed by sidewalk. A pleasing view that brought a bit of juxtaposition to the dreary urban occupants I had encountered on this particular walk home, as I reach for the key that will unlock the front door to my apartment. Once I have reached the front steps to my row house, I fix my eyes to the front windows on the third floor and see luminance pushing out of the glass and into the black of night. Upon opening the door my senses are awakened by the strong odor of cigarette smoke and raucous laughter and dialogue emitting from the door on the second floor. I climb the first flight of steps past the noise and then proceed up the second set of steps to the final door that leads into my last destination for the day. I twist the doorknob, it is unlocked, and push inward to enter the conclusion of my night walk where I discover a note under the door inviting my girlfriend and I to a birthday party downstairs and my girlfriend’s tired eyes fixed to her laptop that she is connected to via headset.

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