Thursday, April 26, 2012

Walking Home

There is an infinite amount of stuff that I don't know enough about to write up here, but every once in awhile, life itself is so wacky that it indicates that we don't really even know anything about our own day to day reality. I thought I would write up something that happened to me today as an example of what I'm driving at.

I decided to walk home from work this evening. Got some groceries, a fairly heavy bag, which always ends up involving a little calculating. My feet have been bugging me for awhile, so I don't approach the task of lugging groceries home with the same sang froid I once did. But things conspired to make me think it might be worth a go. It was a very lovely evening here at the end of April, and it seemed like a better choice to do some hill climbing than to deal with the bus station, the students on the bus, and all the rest of it.

I ran into a friend that I don't know all that well, but who seems to appear at significant times in my life. She was part of the reason I ended up being a kind of chaperone for International Women's Day, she turned out to be a good friend of the daughter of one of my soul friends, who died this year--we didn't know that we had this connection, we met at the memorial shindig--stuff like that. Tonight she was walking down the hill with a friend as I was walking up. She was telling me that she had made it her mission to get another friend to do an improv class with her. And this was something I wholeheartedly approved.    

Anyway, I suppose that's neither here nor there, but it made me happy that I'd walked home instead of riding, as things were afoot, and now I was party to them.

I did not stop to consider the fact that I was now only half way home.

I crossed Mission. Crossing Mission Street is always kind of a big deal, because only a mile or so north, Mission Street becomes Highway One North. One of my friends was riding her bike on Mission a few years ago. A truck ran her down and ran over her arm. Twice. First forwards and then backwards. Mission Street is Highway One in disguise.

But then I was past that and in the lovely residential neighborhoods that I live in. It's a complete fake of course. I live in a small run down studio behind someone's house, but I walk to work every day through a very pleasant well to do neighborhood, populated in large part by people who do not work in retail for a living.

Ahead of me, I saw a woman drive her car in a 360 at the quiet intersection. I was watching it because a block further on, I had almost been hit a few weeks before when a woman was doing a left turn into the sun. I was definitely not going to cross until she had made the full turn. She did. When she finished, there was purse sitting in the middle of the crosswalk. I went over and picked it up. I don't think it had anything to do with the car. I kind of wondered how long it had been sitting there, in fact. At first I thought I would just leave it against a pole or something, but then I thought, that's crazy, you don't know what the next person who comes along will do with it. So I stuck it in the canvas bag I had my groceries in, and kept walking. I thought I'd take it home and figure out how to contact the person from there.

After about half a block, I realized that I should probably check what was inside. At first I thought it had only some cigarettes and breath mints in it, but it turned out to have a wallet. The wallet had a license, and the license had an address on the street just one block away. Damn, I thought. I guess I'm going to have to try and return it.

My feet were not particularly pleased at that decision.

I walked on to King Street. I had an address, but I wasn't sure which direction it was in relation to where I was going. Of course, it turned out to be in the opposite direction to the one I was going.  My will palled a little. On the one hand, I thought about this woman missing her wallet, on the other, I knew that it was safe. I thought, maybe I could just go home, and somewhat less encumbered, I could go and take it to her house. Either way, it was looking to be a longer evening than I had anticipated.

Suddenly a car appeared. "You are looking a bit lost--can I take you somewhere?" It wasn't the Big Bad Wolf, though. It was a woman who also had worked the book biz in town, and had more recently worked in a little coffee stand right in front of the bookstore. "Well, if you don't mind, you could really do me a favor."

So she drove me the few blocks to the address. The purse owner's place was ***A, so it was clear it was a unit apart from the main dwelling. The markings for this place were incredibly clear. It was on the mailbox, it was on a sign pointing to the gate, and so on. I went up the drive, I went through the gate, I rang the bell. No one came to the door. I left the bag on the porch. It seemed pretty clear it would be safe there till she got home. She won't ever know how it ended up back on her doorstep, but then I won't know how it ended up in the middle of a crosswalk either.

My kindly chauffeur drove me the rest of the way to my house. She was heading up to campus to see a film, which I thought laudable. She said it was called Misrepresentation, so I thought it was about abstract art, but it turns out that it's part of the annual Labor film festival. It's really called "Miss Representation". She told me she'd tell me if  I should feel sorry I missed it.

I don't know how your life is, but this is a lot how my life is. Purses abandoned in the middle of the street. And when you're on your last legs, guardian angels appear and help you do what (you can only hope) is the right thing.



  1. I loved your story of walking home. Do you know the Regina Spektor song "Wallet"? I think you would like it!

  2. Thank you, Kathleen. I don't know the Spektor song but I will definitely hunt it down.

  3. Here's a link to a live rendition.

    Very apt.

  4. This is great Seana. I think your life in particular tends to be full of days like this!

    I see a collection of "Day in the Life of a pedestrian Santa Cruzian" coming up...

    I loved the dilemma you had between going home and not dealing with the purse right now or ...dealing with the purse right now. Everyone can probably relate to that very feeling...

    Glad you had a guardian angel on your side!

  5. Thanks, Julie. I am still not sure if my life is more full of days like these than most or if my brain is more likely to see things this way.

    I may have been inspired by recently reading Robert Walser, who celebrates exactly such moments.

    And if you didn't check out that link to the Wallet song above, do. It's good.