Another Box of Chocolates

January 29, 2010 at 1:07 pm (Clairissa, Waxing Nostalgic)

Yesterday was haircut day. Clairissa has a new space, and it is ready enough for me to visit. She booked out a couple of hours, I loaded my backpack, and when I arrived she met me at the door. “I have an emergency client. Can I get him out of the way and then we’ll have until six or seven?”

“Sure. I may just take a little walk around the neighborhood. Text me when you’re done?”

And with that, I was off in search of my Forrest Gump moment…

Northeast Glisan, between 60th and 68th, was my neighborhood during the decade of the ’90s. We managed an apartment building for a couple of years, then moved around the corner to a nicer, safer building. The niece and nephew were born there. I almost died there. I hadn’t been back in a while. It was time to look around.

I decided to hike up to Fred Meyer’s, then mosey back down the opposite side of the road. I wandered the back roads from Clairissa’s to the main street and headed up the hill. The hill used to be horribly steep and imposing. I had no trouble marching to the top. Either the hill is eroding away, or I am. Could it be me?

A bus bench sat unoccupied in front of Fred Meyer’s, and the bus was passing. Cool! I could sit quietly for a few and watch the world go by. I could also rest the backpack; I was carrying a ton of crap for Clairissa.

A guy walked by with his dog. The dog sniffed my leg, his master sniffed in disapproval. The northwest side of Mount Tabor can be snooty when it wants to be.

As I drifted back in time, a young lady approached. (Okay, not so young, but very attractive.) Horny as I was, I resisted being flirty. I didn’t make eye contact until she sat down next to me.

“Hi! How’s it going?” She spoke in that tone that tells me she’s either a prostitute or a Scientology recruiter. I wanted nothing to do with the latter.

“Good, thanks. Lovely day.” If she’s a cop, I want nothing to do with that either!

We sat quietly. I wanted to look down the hill, but every time I did she’d be looking at me, smiling. Hmm…

I sat quietly for several minutes, giving the bus time to arrive. I didn’t want to get into some kind of inescapable conversation, and if she’s a hooker I’ll find out soon enough.

After a glance down the hill, she smiled at me again. Fuck it. “I lived in this neighborhood ten years ago, and it’s amazing how little has changed. I swear that pile of trash outside that apartment over there hasn’t moved an inch since I’ve been gone.”

She gave a sigh of relief. “I know exactly what you mean! This is so weird; I used to live in that yellow house down there on the corner, for about five years.”

“I see The Moosehead has changed to Biddy McGraw’s. The Moosehead used to be a fun place, but kind of a shooting gallery.”

“Finest kind of people. As long as you know when to duck,” she grinned.

“A & L’s is still there. Too bad I don’t drink anymore. A pitcher of Bud sounds really good right now.”

“I’m in rehab. Can’t do any of that, or I lose my kid.”

The chat continued, we reminisced. We shared cop stories, and crime stories, and drinking stories. We packed a lot into fifteen minutes. When the bus arrived, she offered her hand and introduced herself. We shook hands twice and she waved as the bus pulled away. I’ve been racking my brain ever since, trying to remember a situation where we’d encountered each other.

I checked my phone, a message from Clairissa was waiting. “Just started. Can you come back @ 4?”

Twenty minutes. Might as well give the Freddy’s a look…

This was my grocery store during the ’90s. It had received an extensive facelift. As I browsed I came across a lottery machine. I had an old Keno ticket to check. $17! I went back outside and texted Clairissa. “At Fred’s. Need more Sparks or anything while I’m here?” If she needed booze, might as well get it cheap and now.

“Sparks! You rock! So observant. Get back here now.”

I guess that’s a yes.

Thanks to my bus stop chat, the tour of the old neighborhood will have to continue another time. I headed back to Clairissa’s with two four-packs of black-top Sparks, the higher-octane version, and a diet Cherry Dr Pepper for my placebo. Now that she lives in the neighborhood, I’ll have ample time to catch up.

As I walked down the hill, feeling equal rushes of adrenaline and nostalgia, my new friend’s words echoed inside my head.

“Gee, I guess you can go home again…”

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