Today, when I walked Daisy, there were two major firsts.
One: I wore closed-toe shoes, my first time since January 17th, that fateful Sunday when I decided to trim an ingrown toenail. A week later my neighbor nurse looked at it and recommended I go to the doctor. There were antibiotics followed by a podiatrist, followed by a month in sandals, in the winter. During that time I walked the streets of New York in the winter and California in the rain, where the many-years-old pair of sandals that I could wear socks with finally came unglued.
I have laughed sometimes about wanting to amputate my leg at the knee when my knee hurts, but now I know for sure, I don’t want to do that. I need and appreciate both my legs and both my feet.
Thank you Lord for closed toed shoes and warms socks in the wintertime.
Two: I am no longer stalking people when I walk.
I developed a huge case of sidewalk envy as I walked Daisy in the neighborhoods near me, neighborhoods that had the smarts to sign petitions ten years ago asking the city for new streets and sidewalks. My neighborhood started a petition last year, and when I inquired about it, I found that out of 16 blocks, only 3 were signed up. So, I did what any compulsive retiree would do, I volunteered to finish the job. I didn’t know at the time that I was going to trim my ingrown toenail and do the job in sandals in the winter.
I also didn’t know I had stalker tendencies. When I got close to the number of petitions I needed on a block, I began to stalk the remaining owners. On every errand I ran, I drove by, looking for a change, a sign of life, a curtain open, a different car in the driveway, mail taken in that had been outside the day before, a garbage can taken in on trash day. I became fearless. I stopped them in their driveways, followed them into their garages.
I was so taken aback by my boldness that I inquired if the Civic Club had insurance that would post bond when I ended up in stalkers jail. My Civic Club contact responded that if I was arrested, she would bake me a cake with a saw inside of it. Good to know.
I’ve lived here thirty years, most of the time leaving early and coming home late, knowing a few people on my street and the faces of those who walk their dogs. I have never once attended a regular meeting of the Civic Club. But now I know everything. I know where to go for the smell of Indian curry cooking on a Saturday afternoon, and I know where the boogey man lives. I know who replaced their front doors with leaded glass, and where if I knocked too hard, my hand might go through the door. I know if the occupants are half-full or half-empty. I know this by whether they thanked me for circulating the petition and maybe even offered to help, or complained that it was going to take too long and they might move before then. I know who is dying of cancer, has a bad back, is talking care of a mother who just fell and broke a hip. I know where all the dogs live, and the children, and the little ladies who wouldn’t come to the door but would call me if I left them a note. I know that I live in a melting pot of many races, and I like that. And I know that almost all of them will still open the door to a stranger who says, “I’m your neighbor.” And I like that too.
Yesterday when I opened the mail, I received the last petition I needed to finish the entire job. I should have had a celebration, but to tell the truth, I’m going to miss that stack of paper when I take it downtown next week.
I am sure the next obsessive compulsive project will come along soon, but until then, I am just going to walk Daisy, wear closed-toe shoes, and dream of the day when we will be strolling on our very own shiny new sidewalks.