I’ve realized I live right on the edge of some kind of invisible boundary line. If you walk south from my place you can go pretty much all the way to the city limits and everything stays the same, only more so: massive late 18th to early 19th century brick rowhouses, now subdivided into multiple apartment units and leased to severely overpaid and sublimely detached people.
Heading north on Pulteney, things started to change fast. Within a block or two, I started to walk past houses with people out on the porches and sidewalks. They weren’t coming or going somewhere (the only functions to which you will ever see a porch or sidewalk utilized on the south side), but were rather just hanging out there talking to each other. I heard a series of pops and through an alley I glimpsed fireworks that I’m certain are illegal here getting set off. Kids were running around on the sidewalk, people were shouting, and as Exchange T’d off onto Castle, they were mostly shouting in Spanish.
Turning left onto North Main Street, the houses change to a gaudy Victorian style which, while I think is supposed to look like something older, are actually somewhat newer than the brick houses to the south. They mostly aren’t kept up as well, but many of them have Christmas lights. In one lawn, I even saw a large glass encased shrine to the Virgin Mary.
Looping around Genesee Park I headed back south, and while stopping to take a photo of stencil on the sidewalk, what I thought was a car blaring Reggae music drove passed. Looking up though, it turned out to be a guy on a bicycle blaring Reggae music, which is worlds better, really.
I continued south on Exchange and walked up to a little Latin restaurant that I’d often noticed and wondered about. It was closed and I walked up to the door to check the hours. As I turned away I saw someone moving inside. They came up to the door and I heard them fooling with the lock for what felt like a long time after. When I was about forty feet away I glimpsed back and saw they were standing by the door, I think looking after me. In retrospect, I kind of wish I’d gone back and said hi, but I’m never really sure what to do in those situations, so I just kept walking.
I passed my office and noticed for the first time how you can’t really see the entire sign when you approach it from that direction. And then I was in the downtown, where bars and restaurants were warmly lit and full of people; brick streets blocked off to accommodate tables covered in candles and beer bottles. I looked but I didn’t go in anywhere, because I still don’t really know anyone here.
I have fun memories from places as far apart as Georgia and Germany of going out to bars by myself and meeting people and talking about stuff and great things happening, but it’s never really worked here. I tried it about a dozen times the first couple months after I came, but nothing ever happened. At least nothing good. So I stopped.
Maybe it’s just an upstate New York problem. I’d like to just blame it on people being cold and rude and detached, but recently I’ve become afraid it might actually just be that everyone I’m around is too much like me. The thing about people like me is we’re remarkably hard to get to know.
From the downtown it was just a five minute walk back to my own brick building on my own brick road. I didn’t want to go inside and still had that irrepressible feeling of something needing to happen, but wasn’t really sure what to do. So instead I went over and sat on the steps of the Presbyterian church by my house and checked the stock market for about the nine-hundredth time. It was a crazy day in the tech-sector.
Then, finally, I went inside and upstairs. I thought about everything, and wasn’t sure what I thought about it. So, I decided to write this post instead of thinking about it anymore.