Thursday, June 6, 2013

Then and Now 68 - Northside

Then and Now 68 - Northside
Time: Mid-2007, single and at my apartment.

Just north of my apartment and past the bedding and shoe stores was a huge road that went west deeper into town, and east across a bridge to the main city. It was a good mile or two of road, and filled with many things to see. I hardly ever went west because I was usually on my way by bus or on foot to the city, but I have been down that road to the east so many times that I can still walk it in my mind's eye. The part of town that I lived in was crammed with many apartment buildings, local stores and other assorted places where people bustled in large crowds from one place to another.

There were local signs advertising wares of every type as far as the eye could see, and I bought some stuff at a few of those places. When I got my first paycheck, I bought some bedding from a local bedding store that was packed with mattresses and bedsheets leaning at every possible angle. It was little trouble for me to buy my first sheets, some blue ones with a kind of white bird/angel feather motif, using the words Nate taught me for "double bed sheets." I also went to a local supermarket and got the pot and skillet I used to cook burritos, and even though I didn't know the exact words, I was able to find help from a girl who worked there when I asked for "metal bowl-tools that I can cook in." Finally, I bought a pair of shoes that I ended up wearing until about a year ago, holes and all, from a nice old woman who ran a shoe store.

With those stores at my back and down a narrow street, the giant east-west road slowly began to fill everything in my vision. Directly in front of me across this huge four lane street, was a car dealership. It was summer when I was single, and not only was the light of the sun blasting down on me, but the glass that allowed looks at the cars inside reflected as much heat as possible on my sweat drenched self.

Down the long and straight road were many, many places of various use and stature: there was a hospital five minutes down the road on the south side, where I had gotten my health check done once or twice. There was also an L-shaped group of businesses about halfway to the bridge that had a bunch of local lunch shops. I ate at one of them several times while I was doing health checks or taking walks, and I talked with the husband and wife who ran it every time, trying everything from the sandwiches and burgers to the spaghetti while there.

Just five or ten minutes from the bridge was an overpass of some kind, but I don't remember if it was a freeway or an alternate path around town. I went under that pass many times on my travels around town, and used it just as often to shield myself from the sun for a few precious seconds. East of it was another long street that went north and south, and I remember walking down it one cool evening. The sun was close to setting and throwing shadows from the lamp posts onto the ground, and the bushes on the median were a quiet black-green. For some reason, every single lamp post was lit up by a bunch of softly glowing lights with a few plants strung between them.

I walked that night to the north until I came across a large shopping center which was very well designed. There were two parts to the place: the first was the above ground area, which was a literal ring of shops, several floors high, around a center meeting and relaxation area. The stores were all open with clear glass windows providing looks into all of them at the same time. I went shopping for some computer stuff at one of the stores on the third or fourth floor one time, and went for some ice cream on one of the bottom floors on another day.

The second area was below ground, and down a huge ring of stone stairs were housed several more stores. There was a McDonald's down there, and I think it was only the second or third time I had been to one while abroad. When I went inside, there were several locals sitting around the restaurant, and it seemed like the entire place came to a sudden halt when I entered. Everyone took turns alternating between looking at me and looking away shyly, including the clerk. I wasn't hungry and was just looking around, so I smiled, waved, then headed back out.

Farther into the center was a mammoth big box store that sold everything from food and clothes to costumes and school supplies. I went around the place for a little while, making notes of things that I might have needed or wanted later, and I ended up coming back for the Halloween party in Then and Now 65 to pick up a Harry Potter costume, because all the school had for me was some witch or warlock freebie that didn't look like it suited me. I already had a dress shirt for some interviews I did at the hostel, so I bought a tie there to complete the Potter look, too.

Only once did I ever head the other direction from my apartment: one day, I headed to the west-northwest side of the town and passed by a huge local supermarket where I bought some candy for my apartment. I also passed by a furniture store on the way, but since I didn't, and still don't, care about that useless stuff, I just passed it by.

And that's everything I can remember about my old town. I'm not yet done with my stories from that particular time, but this will about do for the last city I lived in as a free and sovereign man, before I got married.

As for today...

I woke up at 7:00.
I played video games.
My wife and son woke up, so I turned off the computer.
I ate lunch.
I watched TV.
I roughhoused with my son.
I took a nap.
I woke up.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I came home.
I started a load of laundry.
I cleaned up the floor and table.
I did the dishes.
I watched internet movies with my son.
I hung up wet laundry.
I slept.

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