There exist days where the schedule is lickety-split sewn-up, everything happens according to its location on the list. And then there are days like yesterday, when my car wouldn't start, then almost started, then went dead dead dead. Called AAA, called the mechanic, and then the car started with all kinds of Warning! Lights! Lit! Egads.
I managed to get it to the shop, then headed back home afoot, 28 degrees and a hint of sun easing through fog. Plugged in my earbuds, cranked up Handel's Messiah and set out on a route I've only ever driven, down the long decline from the top of Beacon Hill, across the light rail tracks, back up another hill, through a neighborhood that some would think of an unsavory but I look at for the diversity. My zip code is the most ethnically diverse in the nation, and I passed elderly Asian men on their morning constitutionals, African-American teenage boys in their oversized coats and butt-saggy pants, Muslim women with little skin unswathed. A storefront church with JESUS SAVES painted on the plate glass. My Vietnamese dentist with his red neon tooth in the window. Lots of empty storefronts: "For Lease". A corner store with a large HALAL MEAT sign painted on plywood.
As I neared the small business district of Columbia City, everything suddenly became tidy, swept, minus the peeling paint and tired disuse visible just two blocks prior. Gentrification seems to have strict boundaries sometimes, edging out from a few core businesses. Signage goes from hand-painted to factory produced. There's a not-so-interesting Starbucks, and an even less-interesting Subway, and about ten independent restaurants, all relatively new. A co-op gallery, a used bookstore, a florist, a butcher. People were out, but not in any great number.
It was the first day of winter, and despite the below-freezing temps, with Handel piping into my ears I was content in my wandering back home. And flowers -- what a surprise! I counted eight
different varieties in bloom in front yards or parking strips -- nothing I'd ever notice while driving:
It continued, one surprise agenda following another, about which I will not bore you, except that while waiting for a prescription at Costco (where I had to park [in my son's car] in The Outback: Costco was very tiny in the distance), a woman sat down beside me and commenced to talk about back fat. WTF?!
The car was repaired for less than a thousand dollars, which is a Big Deal.
I was treated to a martini and a bowl of French onion soup at Cafe´Presse. Heavenly comfort.
I participated in a lengthy debate about the women's movement, which in the end, turned into a semantic argument more than anything. Words!
And Christmas! I nearly forgot about it.