How many times have you said something like that to yourself? What is that, a reflex reaction to psychological muscle memory of what certain days “feel” like? This usually happens when holidays get into the mix, shuffling the pattern of days off.
Out with the Boston Terrier this morning on the Common I saw William in his stocking cap and long coat slowly oval-ing the track on the floor of the park. He’s out there every day, weather permitting, using the free outdoor fitness center behind his apartment at Bishop Markham Village. I don’t know anything about him, and our exchanges have been limited to “good morning,” but I did ask his name once. I’ve seen him out there for years, a solitary figure whom I’ve never seen talk to any of the other walkers in a cast that continually changes. He makes me think of my father toward the end of his life. He was a very private person, and William emits the same vibe. Through the years I’ve struck up conversations with other exercise-walkers and dog-people, but with William I just feel that I’d be intruding and making him uncomfortable. When I asked his name that one time because I wanted to at least introduce myself, he seemed surprised and a little nervous, so I left it there. I’ve imagined all kinds of lives for him as I’ve watched him from my position on the track. In a way, for me he stands for all the unchronicled stories of people in the city. Every family, every block, each street has enough experience and drama to fill a book or several volumes. It’s all there. Look at what’s come of the Eklund-Ward group. They’ve got websites and Wikipedia pages. What if everyone in Lowell had a local version of a Wikipedia page? Would that be “history” in the extreme? I don’t know, maybe that’s where we have to go to reach the “deep history” consciousness that feeds a healthy community and civic life. The Facebook phenomenon is taking us that way. This year I’m going to jump into the FB flow with the hundreds of millions of others. I’ve resisted because it seemed to be one more thing to keep up with, but there comes a point when you need all the basic items in your tool box. We’ve all got a hammer, pliers, and two kinds of screwdrivers at least.
The January thaw is here on the first day. I’ve got the windows open upstairs to let in the fresh breeze. Best wishes and best of luck to all our readers, comment-makers, and to my blogging colleagues for 2011. Keep coming back to our place on the web. We’ll do what we can to keep it lively.