Come Sunday Morning
Yeah. Right. Like my life is ever that easy...
I discovered that, curiously, no Sunday papers were to had in any of the downtown racks I checked. Granted, I didn't check all of them, but there are a lot of racks downtown. And let's face it, I ain't getting any younger. Thinking for a few minutes, I decided the only thing for it was to walk down to Cone Hospital, a little over a mile away, and pick up a paper in one of the racks there, or perhaps the Gift Shop.
Oh, well, like I said, it was a good morning. Traffic picked up a bit as I made my way toward the hospital, as people arrived for church. (There are several in the immedate area of the Day Center), but it wasn't yet a hazard. I could concentrate on a few other things as I walked.
The Fisher Park area of Greensboro, as I've mentioned before, has some excellent examples of architecture from the first half of the 20th century. I'm no expert, but I'd say that most of it probably represents the '20s and '30s. I paused to rest for a few minutes across the street from one monstrous manse. It's a large, three-story brick-clad house that has frankly seen better days. Still, it's a far cry from what we once lived in and is larger even now than the Day Center.
I tried to imagine being a member of the family that lived in that house, back when it was new and clean, and probably one of the talks of the neighborhood.Waking up in one of its spacious bedrooms, getting washed and dressed, and reporting to the kitchen downstairs, where a sumptous breakfast would be waiting. We'd banter across the table at each other over our bacon and eggs, and finally walk out the front door for a brisk walk to church a few blocks away.
The Beast chortled in his sleep somewhere at the back of my brain. Time to go.
Continuing north along Elm street, I came to the bridge that took Wendover Avenue overhead. As I passed into the bridge's shadow, I scanned the girders. I didn't see anything right away. Then I had a crazy thought*: let's see just what it's like to actually have to climb up the concrete rise to get to a prospective sleeping area.
It wasn't too bad. Of course, over the past twenty years, I've been blessed with two bad knees and forty extra pounds, and of late my elbow has been bothering me, but I did it. The top of the concrete rise was surprisingly clean -- I had expected a lot of dust and pigeon poop, but none was to be seen -- and the only sign of previous habitation I spotted was a ratty old towel and t-shirt. They looked like they'd been there for years. I sat for a few minutes trying to imagine trying to sleep while cars rumbled by just a few feet over my head and others whizzed past on Elm Street below. I decided I didn't like it. Thank God I haven't yet fallen so low that I'd have to put up with that. Of course, I now see how others have to, just to survive. It's not a pleasant thought.
Time to get down. I then had to think about how to accomplish it. Should I try to slide down, bracing with my feet, but risking burning holes into the seat of my pants, or turning around backward and crawling down much the same way as I came up. I finally decided on the latter choice. My knees disagreed and my elbow contemplated staging a revolt, but they grudgingly did their parts as I made my way back to the sidewalk. Looking back into the girders, I had a new appreciation of those that had to do that every night and every morning.
I arrived at the hospital, got my paper, and left, going by Olive Street. There was an abandoned house there that I knew of, but I'd never gotten to take a good look at it in strong morning light. Now I had the light and the time. Arriving at the house, which was still obviously vacant, I gave it a good once-over (or as good as I thought the neighbors would let me have before summoning Greensboro's Finest). It looked to be a three bedroom, with a basement (a big plus in my book), and has a carport. The house hasthe typical wear of a structure that hadn't been taken care of in a while, but it would probably be okay with some work. I remembered the movie It's a Wonderful Life, where George and Mary Bailey (James Stewart and Donna Reed) take over an old house that had been abandoned since they were kids and fixed it up again. I wondered whether or not that would be possible in this instance.
By the time I returned to the Day Center, I knew how that little house felt. Good thing it's Sunday. Nothing ever happens around here on Sunday.
*Were I a younger man, this idea wouldn't have been so crazy. I used to do much nuttier things, heedless of danger, legalities, or what others thought of me. How times change...