Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Change of Routine

I went to work an hour and a half early the other day. This meant that I walked down my street at the quiet time of 6:20am. I wasn’t thinking much about anything, until I noticed who was walking in front of me.

It was the woman who lives in the white house on the corner.

Little Edie in front of Grey Gardens
Her house has boarded up windows. It also had peeling paint until earlier this summer when one of her nephews painted it the color nude pantyhose. I don’t know the woman’s name, but I can spot her a mile away. She dresses in layers of lace, flowered patterns, sparkles, and fake fur. She’s like the Little Edie of Juneau. Even though there’s something totally off-kilter about the way she dresses, her outfits are invariably bright, fun, and strangely beautiful. On summer mornings, when I’m up extra early to drive Andrew or my parents to the airport at 5am, I see her out in her small overgrown yard, cutting the grass with a steak knife. She grabs a fistful, pulls it up like you would someone’s hair, and then saws through. I always wave and say good-morning and she always waves back.

Other days, we’ll come out of the house and look across the street to find that she’s set up a tea-party on her lawn. She brings out all kinds of things: pots, fake flowers, buckets, rolling office chairs, stuffed animals, and arranges them in a semi-circle as if she’s had all sorts of company while we’ve slept (although I’ve never seen anyone at her house besides the young man who painted it). The tea-party will sit on her lawn for the day, or even two, and then just as mysteriously disappear. It’s rare that I see her out during the daylight hours.

So, to suddenly find myself walking behind her into town was a surprise. Where was she going at 6:20am? Was she just going for a walk? Was she going to pick something up? To meet someone? Does she do this every morning?

I passed only two other people. I caught myself studying them, inspecting their clothes, their faces, the directions they were walking. What were they doing?

A slight shift in my routine had suddenly revealed to me an entirely new set of questions.

What else am I missing?

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