I went out for my walk tonight, and it was longer and later than usual. However, it can't hold a candle to the walks I used to take in the nights of yore. I remember about fifteen years ago, I used to go out for a walk every night, and it was never before midnight. I hate my town when it's earlier. People are walking their dogs. Their house lights are bright. Their TV's are too loud. But after midnight? Things are quiet. It's just me and the crickets. And the occasional bat.
Back in the old days, I didn't have a job that required me to be there early in the morning. I miss that, because interesting things happen when you walk in Elmhurst at one in the morning. When I made it to Spring Road in the old days, there was a fairly good chance that a drunken woman would stumble out of Doc Ryan's and show me her tits. Just 'cause.
But that's an extreme case, and it happened rarely. No, I mostly liked my old walks because I didn't have to see anyone. I could just wander alone with my thoughts. Strangers wouldn't try to start up inane conversations with me. I could just work out my problems with no interruption.
But those days are gone. When I go out for my walks at the mundane hour of nine pm, I have no choice but to run into people walking their dogs. The script is always the same. I say hi, just to be friendly, and their dog tries to attack me. The owner apologizes and goes on his or her way. And that's the end. At the very least, such exchanges are brief. I'm into that whole brevity thing, man. At least when it comes to ordinary bullshit.
When I go for my walks, I just want to be alone. I have a million thoughts racing in my head, and going out for a walk is a rare opportunity to organize them and beat them into submission. But! But, on occasion, human contact can be interesting. I remember one instance, when I was in college and walking at two in the morning, a stranger walked up to me and offered me ten bucks to deliver flowers to his girlfriend, with whom he was on the outs. Of course I did it. I nearly had my nuts bitten off by his beloved's attack dog, but she didn't call the cops on me. Plus, I made ten bucks for five minutes of work. Not bad for a guy who made six dollars an hour back then at a part time job.
I miss the adventure of my late night walks. I miss the solitude. I miss the blankness of Elmhurst at such a late hour. However, that's not to say that things still aren't interesting. Tonight, as I closed in on my block after walking two and a half miles, I saw a herd of cops canvassing the neighborhood. They drove their cars with the headlights off, and they stopped the dog walkers and asked them questions. I don't know what happened--I'd heard fireworks earlier, so I guessed they were on the lookout for the perpetrator--but I'm surprised they didn't stop me for questioning. Maybe they recognized me from the time I worked at the public works garage. I don't know.
But hey. It was kind of interesting, for a nine pm walk, when the sky was barely dark, and the stars were just starting to shine.