Double-takes, that is what passersby do as they cruise along in their various means of transportation. Apparently sitting in one's apartment building front yard under a tree with a book (and maybe a glass of bourbon) isn't the norm around here. Or is it the fact that I don't have my attention hijacked by an Iphone, Ipad or other ignore-the-outside-world electronic device creeping them out? Little do they know I'm watching and observing them just as much.
These are the same looks I received when I planted a small garden in that same tiny front yard. I also dished out those glances and stares when I finally caught the couple who kept stealing those plants, pulling them right out of the ground, in the middle of the night as they were walking their dog. I had jokingly thought of electrifying the tomato plant cages just to teach them a lesson.
Maybe its my saved from the trash lawn chair that accompanies me? It's arms are dotted with what looks like rust water stains, but otherwise works and is semi-comfortable. On second glance, the stains resemble Iodine or maybe dried blood. Hmm...its not blood. Then again I could have picked up someone's discarded murder weapon. Yeah, its not blood...I'm pretty sure...sort of. Do I have bleach in my apartment?
I'm not alone, the struggling trees across the street keep me company. The four aren't very big, though they never really had a chance. They have obviously been trimmed (butchered is the better word for it) over and over. Some limbs are thriving, most of the others litter the ground with debris on windy days. One tree has no growth, just a six-foot stump with one branch pointing towards the sky at two o'clock as if to say "kill me now, seriously, just kill me" to the heavens above.
There isn't much moisture in that small strip of land about the width of my arm that sits between a busy residential street and a massive parking lot that, at most, is half full about twice a year. Its current major role is reserved for the massive piles of snow the plows shove around during Ohio's schizophrenic winters. Let's just say it isn't postcard worthy.
Occasionally my strange activities are interrupted. Last weekend I smiled at a woman walking by and she said "hi". Then proceeded to utilize the next 35 minutes to tell me about an unnerving domestic situation that has been taking place between her, her daughter and recent tenants turned squatters.
The animated monologue filled with expletives was a bit uncomfortable and she assured me that the rather fresh cast on her right wrist and hand was due to punching a wall out of anger. "Not from punching a person", she said with a laugh. I forced a laugh along with her, silly me. I was happy to see her move on, waving goodbye with the swollen, bruised sausage fingers sticking out from the end of that badge of honor encasing her hand. That image still haunts me.
Other times I'm interrupted by folks strolling by on the sidewalk having cell phone conversations with complete disregard for who is around, how loud they are, what they are saying or where they are. I say "conversations", but are more like arguments while pushing a small child around in a stroller who isn't protect by the blazing sun.
Its funny how they throw you a disapproving stare when they catch your eyes. Is it because they notice I'm listening or because I'm bad at feigning interest in a conversation I've been forced into against my will from half a block away? Oh, by the way...your child is melting.
Every now and then, I don't even have to go outside. Last fall my upstairs neighbor turned on the bath at around 7 am as I'm having my coffee and half-listening to NPR. Before long the sound of her running water seemed to be coming from my bathroom. I think its in the movie The Amityville Horror where blood seeps and drips from the walls? Imagine that blood is instead water.
My neighbor turned on the bath, then laid down and fell asleep. As a result, her bath ran over onto her floor - also known on the other side as my bathroom ceiling. About 30 minutes later I have cleaned up the mess, but have two loads of soaked towels and rugs to take care of. Not to mention the task given to my landlord to correct a drywall ceiling that, to me, resembles the aftermath of colliding tectonic plates below the Earth's surface.
I'm still waiting for the ceiling to be repaired, though I'm now greeted at each bathroom visit by thousands of tiny, damp drywall chandeliers that fall like Autumn leaves every couple of days...yay. She, my upstairs neighbor, did apologize - at least I think she did or tried. That afternoon I came home from work to find a note on my door that read:
Sorry about your water problem.
...are you confused? Yep, me too.
I'm not sure if it was the smiley face, that it was apparently my "water problem" or that she shares the name of a vehicle for running water. I still think I was somehow involved in a lost Seinfeld episode.
Anyway, it is at least entertaining here on State Street. My elderly, bisexual neighbor who half jokingly hits on me every now and then is a story for another time.
So my question to you is - what less then perfect place would you want to be right now?