As a frequent and avid walker who has lived in the same spot for nineteen years, I possess a deep familiarity with the landscape and character of my neighborhood. There are constant changes, of course, as seasons and residents move on to be replaced by others. But some alterations are more jarring than others. A couple of differences in the past few weeks have given me a through the looking glass feeling.
I’m fortunate to be within walking distance of my job, so my most frequent route takes me from my house to work and back. Those handful of blocks contain the sights I see on a near-daily basis. One house I pass was bought a few years ago by a couple with two very young children and an obvious appreciation for outdoors play. It always gives me a smile to see what they’re up to and maybe exchange a few words. This past winter was pretty brutal and lasted longer than usual, so I didn’t see the residents out at all for several months. Then one day in May as I headed up the block toward their place, I heard kids laughing and saw the parents out with them, drawing on their driveway with chalk. I approached with swelling heart, ready to wave and say a cheery hello. But wait!
When I arrived at the yard something was off. It was inhabited by the wrong family. All different people. Same general ages and complexions, but four completely different people. When did that happen? I go by the house nearly every single day, remember? I’d never seen a for sale sign, no moving trucks, no hint of disruption in the fabric of my reality. Had I gone through a portal to a parallel universe? I was shook.
Second shocking change: the house of my daydreams is gone. Poof! This one is (or was) not on my work-and-back path. It’s several blocks from my home, but still on a street where I walk frequently, in part because I enjoy looking at the stone cottage that appeared to be out of a fairy tale, the kind of place they put on jigsaw puzzles. I loved to imagine living in it some day, maybe in retirement, spending my days tending flowers in its yard. My step gained an extra spring when I turned the corner leading to my intended future enchanting stone home.
It’s amazing how quickly an entire house can be gone with hardly a trace. Breathtaking really. I ambled along anticipating my moment of housing zen, only to be caught up short by orange fencing and a demolition order. Sob. What does my dream future hold now?
Dare I venture out today? I suppose I will. I’m bracing myself. Perhaps I’ll find the portal that will bring me back to my dependable, known universe. I can hope.