It is easy to understand why my husband prefers to walk the streets bearing the names of old trees: Maple, Oak, Beech, Chestnut Street. The lawns are mowed weekly with a chessboard pattern, each house is updated and beautiful, all in similar style. It helps that there are lots of trees lining the winding, clean streets, giving a shaded path for two dogs and leading the way for two parents with a three month old in tow. We can walk for a mile or more and not have anyone on a front porch or in a front yard say hello or raise their eyes to greet ours.
More often than not, I oblige, enjoying a cool, shady walk as much as the next person (and admittedly, fawning over the English tudors we don’t live in). But, when I get my way, I prefer a different route.
We walked down Bramble to Winona, to Verona, to Castle and found ourselves in front of a house we had looked at last summer. I have an impractical soft spot for historic houses that are in need of love, and modern utilities. The sight of stained glass windows, scrolled woodwork and original brass hardware has me immediately overlooking shoddy electrical work and suspicious mold as I swoon over what it would look like to restore the built-in fireplaces and strip paint off original hardwood floors. The house was built in the late 1800 with scrolled cornices on the porch still intact, and a big windowed covered porch. At the time, the house was in need of, among a thorough cleaning, new box gutters, an updated kitchen, and an updated bathroom (one that did not include carpeting).
As we walked past I said to my husband, “I want to ask him about the bedroom!” Unfortunately, the man who had apparently bought the house was on his cell phone, watering the lawn that could have been mine. We continued walking past, staring at the ladder against the house, box gutters currently being repaired, it seemed. He hung up the phone just as we were passing his fence line, and I went for it.
“So…” I yelled, wheeling the stroller backwards approaching his yard. “Did you keep the mural in the bedroom?” I smiled and he immediately laughed and answered, “Sadly no. We painted over it, but not before documenting it!”
The mural in the bedroom was a Hells Angels biker adorned in black leather and a red bandana, riding his Harley through a field of orange and yellow flames. It covered the wall in the master bedroom.
We talked for in the street about the neighborhood, the biker’s lair he had purchased and another neighbor, a bouncy dog and a very hip-dressed six year old girl joined as well.
The following week we walked Bramble, Windward, Marietta, observing a spirited basketball game at Bramble Park and encountering the mom of a former student my husband had coached in volleyball years ago. “She got into Walnut” the mom reported, beaming over her daughter’s accomplishment. “The only one in her class to get in.” We congratulated her and my husband recalled how he never scored well enough in math to get in. “She said it was easy!” the mom laughed. “I’m gonna be back in 7th grade myself, trying to find x!” We all reminisced how little we’d retained of middle school math, wished her luck, and then we made our way through the neighborhood.
A few streets up, Jim stood up on his porch and waved at us. He had gotten involved in the Brew Review project and coincidentally bought a house next door to my husband’s aunt and uncle. We waved, smiled, and caught up briefly before making our way back home.
While the route my husband prefers is shadier, and passes by nicer houses with nicer landscaping, I prefer the route littered with people: ones who say hello and stop and chat for a few minutes abut biker gangs and children versus the quiet and immaculate English tudors where we nary see a soul.