In getting ready to move away from the area I’ve lived in for the past 25 years, my thoughts are all over the place. I’m walking my dogs on our usual route through the neighborhood, thinking of things somewhat familiar.
What happened to the older couple I used to run into every night as we all walked our dogs? Their beloved Buster, a friendly Border Collie, had passed earlier this year. I cried for them as I would see them walking alone together after that, just the two of them and an invisible gaping empty spot alongside them. I saw them one time only with a newly adopted golden mix. That was the last time I saw them, leading me to ponder what could have happened. Did the dog not work out? Did they move away? Did something happen to one of them? Such a sweet couple, I enjoyed our little chats and I hope more than anything that they are well.
I pass by the church. My little Lola loves walking through their parking lot as usually there are people outside and she is quite the social butterfly. I think about the lady I always used to see walking from here. Dark skinned, head always down at a completely awkward and uncomfortable-looking angle as if her neck was broken or malformed. She had an odd gait as well but I couldn’t tell why she was that way. I’d never seen her up close, always in passing. I’d be driving, she’d be walking. I wondered whether she lived at or worked at the church since she always seemed to be coming from that direction. Did she go there for food or aid? I haven’t seen her for a few years now and I hope that she too is well.
Then there’s the very heavyset man I see always in a T-shirt and sweatpants, always on foot. I used to see him at the grocery store a lot. He may still be there often but I am not, not since my son has moved away. Now my refrigerator, aside from the ever-rotating bottles of beer, remains basically empty. I have spoken briefly with this man on occasion, generally just exchanging niceties, a hello and a smile. He is so out of shape but is always walking. He, like the dark-skinned lady, also has an odd gait. I have worried about him numerous times, particularly so when the temperature soars as it oftentimes does here in the desert. I would see him walking under the hot sun, on occasion even far from our area, and would worry about him having enough water with him.
Others I would see regularly were the clerks in the grocery store by my house. At one point I was there practically every single day. You would think we would know each other by name, or should anyhow.
The mailman, Jim, he reminds me of my daughter’s dad’s family and could be her grandfather’s brother. A nice guy, he knows me by name, as well as where I live – of course. He always takes the time to chat when we see each other. He asks about my dogs and we talk about his. He will notice when I leave, it’s kind of a part of his job, but will anyone else?
Am I someone else’s familiar stranger? Did anyone notice me out? Maybe they thought I had a funny gait when I’d be out walking out the stiffness following a long run or race. Were they curious as to what it was I saw that made me stop and pull out my camera, often snapping picture after picture? Or perhaps about the brown dog I used to walk, my sweet and very faithful Australian Shepherd named Blazer – did they put 2 and 2 together when they saw me walking my other dogs and crying with the brown one nowhere to be seen? Did they see the sadness in me during those times I struggled with being away from my sweetheart?
I wonder, has anyone wondered about me?