Thursday, March 27, 2014

Night Wanderer


photo by John Sandel

It’s 9:18 pm. Late for me but tame for anyone else. Tame time, tame night, tame street. 

I step outside. My crappy slippers from Sears, with the cardboard bottoms, give the cold cement sidewalk direct access to my soles. I huddle my arms around myself, though I’m wearing a sweater. When I lived in Chicago, fifty degrees would not have seemed cold to me. Of course in those days, Sears would have sold me better slippers.

I walk west, toward the troubled end of the block. Maybe I'll talk to the kids who deal drugs at the house by the alley. Even here, on this tame street. Those kids are bad enough but they don’t scare me, I hung out with kids like them when I was their age. The people north of the corner on Los Robles do scare me, though. They're adults and drugs are their business and the cops keep showing up.

The alley kids are not out. The lights are off in their house but I hear rock music. I turn south. Los Robles is parallel to Lake Avenue and the police and fire trucks like it as an alternative. Less traffic than on Lake, but still plenty. We hear sirens often.

I’m in my pajamas. Does anyone notice? No one can tell. Sweat pants, t-shirt and sweater. It’s the slippers that give me away. Slap slap, on the sidewalk.

We live on the edge of the middle-class, juxtaposed with what passes for poor in Pasadena. We're the gentrifiers. There might be danger if I cross Los Robles, but probably not if I stay on this side. Not much, anyway. Not this time of night.

I come to Mountain Avenue and turn east. At the next street I'll turn north again, back into the quiet quarter of Craftsman homes, inviting windows and well-tended gardens that is my neighborhood.

Or I won't go out at all. I'll stay behind my locked door with my book and my lamp and leave the sirens and the drug sellers and the poor people outside.

At least I won't go out in my pajamas. That’s something a crazy person would do. By the time I’m ready for that I hope to have better slippers.


20 comments:

Book Dragon said...

I have nice slippers but my lack of pjs would give me away.

Maybe I'll take my walk in my reading clothes (sweats and a t-shirt). And my really nice slippers.

William Kendall said...

Hmmm, I'd have to buy slippers first to be going out there in my sleepwear... which usually just consists of my boxers.

Petrea Burchard said...

Okay, cozy bathrobes for both of you.

Ms M said...

Interesting evening fantasy you've given us....

Petrea Burchard said...

I thought I'd share, Ms M.

Sarah said...

You go out of the house after 8PM? It's a wild and crazy life you lead, Petrea. I'm in for the night when it gets dark under the table, as my grandmother used to say.

Jato said...

Great evening story. That's one for the book of best sellers.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

Gorgeous photo!. Funny how the dark can change things... I thought only college kids wore their slippers outside! (mine did)... :-)

Petrea Burchard said...

I guess it's all about perception. The same people live in the same places, dark or light.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Sweet. My favorite literary form - the short story.

well done.

José Mendonça said...

Thanks for letting me walk with you in your neighbourhood. I enjoyed it, Petrea!

BettyS said...

Loved this story, Petrea! And love that I know those streets and it all feels familiar.

jb said...

Noticed that too - goes from nice to nasty and back to nice quite quickly

Petrea Burchard said...

It's really a lovely area. Days on our street are idyllic.

Book Dragon said...

Thanks Petrea, that is a cozy robe!

Book Dragon said...

I went outside tonight and looked around. There was a car coming from the end of the street but it turned into a driveway before the lights got too bright.

I wore my reading outfit but left my slippers inside. The night was quiet but not still. The ground was almost warm.

There was a package in my hands. I had come out for reason. One of my glass bowls broke during the earthquake and I needed to throw it away.

There was paint on it from a bottle of craft paint, as well as a few drops of blood. Yes, I picked up the pieces with my fingers.

Dropping the bowl into the trashcan was loud in my ears but no one else seemed to notice. No dogs barked as I made my way inside.

Petrea Burchard said...

I'm sorry your bowl broke, and you cut your fingers, BD. You were pretty close to the epicenter.

We've been having neighborhood meetings about how to protect ourselves and share the work if and when the infrastructure fails. Some people might say it's doomsday thinking. But I was close to the epicenter for the Northridge quake and I think we just need to be prepared.

altadenahiker said...

Funny that a place with all the elbow room and sprawl of SoCal would have such micro climates. But it does.

TheChieftess said...

I have great slippers...with rugged soles that can walk outside, even in snow-just not too deep!!! When I walk outside after dark...I take with me a huge flashlight...and of course, Kelly. We walk up and down the street...no street lights...lot's of stars if there're no clouds...not many neighbors anywhere as they're mostly just occasional weekenders. I wave my flashlight about watching for bears, coyotes, and the local bobcat...so far...not a one...

Petrea Burchard said...

It sure does, Hiker. The weather is probably different at your house than at my house right now.

That sounds idyllic to me, Chieftess, so long as the bears don't get brave about that flashlight.