Every couple of weeks, the group will be issued a
"challenge entry". The site will post a excerpt from the challenge entries, as
well as the link to the complete entry found on the journaller's own journal site.
STRANGER IN A FAMILIAR LAND
December 1, 2000
I took my walk in downtown Davis today. Its amazing how you can live in a place for decades and never really notice whats going on around you. It reminded me of the day I looked up in San Francisco at those buildings I had grown up with all my life and suddenly realized what beauty there was in the architecture, the gingerbread adornments to the facade, the bay windows. All my life I had been looking at the sidewalk and the front doors. The real art was there just waiting for me to lift my eyes up.
I dont know that I encountered real beauty in downtown Davis, but I sure did see things Id never noticed--changes that had gone on in the past 10 years while I was sitting in an office, or at home communing with my computer modem.
My afternoon started at Steves Pizza. Years ago some telemarketer called to ask me about pizza places that I was familiar with. My brain went blank. No Domino, Papa Murphy, or Round Table popped into my head. All I could think of was Steves Pizza, which our office used to order every week for office meetings. The questionnaire went on for about 20 minutes and by the end of it, even the telemarketer was giggling, since the only answer I could give was Steves Pizza. Funny thing is that I never eat pizza at Steves any more. Guess I just had too much of it at the office. But Steves has one of the best salad bars around. It has all the usual stuff, but the croutons, which they make with garlic bread, I think, are to die for. The salad is only $3 and if you dont take a lot of that green stuff, you can really load up on the croutons. And I did. I sat there with my salad, looking at the photos of old Davis, when the streets were unpaved and the town was called Davisville.
As I left the restaurant, by the back door, I passed by a table where the kid in the wheelchair who lives just up the block was sitting. Hes not a kid any more. And I dont know his name. But his brother went to school with our kids. He was the class bully and used to beat up our kids regularly. It was a big problem until the night he showed up on our doorstep in tears, asking us to call the police for him. His mothers boyfriend was beating her up. Tell them its Jim, he said. They know me. While Walt called the police, he cried in my fathers arms. Id never seen my father so tender. It was almost as if they had a special secret between them. A scared kid whom the police knew already. The police came, Jim left, and he never beat our kids up again. I didnt talk to the brother when I passed by his table. I dont know that he even recognizes me.
I found myself on the street across from the office where I used to work. Its under new management now and I could see through the door that the place had been rearranged. I havent met the new management. But I stopped in at the newspaper office to check for any mail (there wasnt any).
The newspaper office used to be the post office. I cant remember when the post office moved to its new facilities. Probably 10 years ago or more. I left the newspaper office and started walking down the street. I noticed that the old book store now sells bicycle equipment. When did that shop open up? And what happened to all the stores on the other side of the street? They knocked down the hotel and all the little stores with it. My favorite mural is gone.
I stood and took pictures through to the railroad station to send to friends who have moved out of town and will be surprised to discover one of the old town landmarks is now just a big hole in the ground. I ducked into a stationery store. This has been a favorite store of mine, but I havent been in it for a long time. As I walked in the door, a girl came up to me and greeted me and asked if she could help me find anything. This irritated me. Its a stationery store! The joy of a stationery store is wandering around through the stacks of cards, reading and looking for just the perfect card. Its not a group activity. I waved her off and started looking at cards.
A man arrived behind me and he also was greeted. He said he was looking for a special card for a friend of his. The woman took him to the stack and began selecting cards for him, reading the verse out loud and commenting on the color and design of the card. It was like being in some sort of fashion show and I really wasnt into it, so I just left. The store, I know, was just trying to offer fast, efficient service. But I think theres such a thing as too much service.
Have you seen the latest thing in some of the fast food joints? I drove through a McDonalds the other day. As I approached the menu board, and before I could actually see the board itself, there was a big notice that read PLEASE HAVE YOUR ORDER READY. Now this seems to me the height of something or other. How can you have your order ready if you cant even see the selections yet? Jack in the Box used to do that to me years ago. I worked across the street from a Jack and would go over for lunch. As I was opening the door, before I had even gotten my body inside, someone would be calling out Can I have your order, please? The end result is I rarely try anything new at a fast food joint because they are so darn fast I never have time to think about whether I want to vary from the items that I already know.
But I digress.
After the stationery store, I went to a local book store. I used to shop in this store often and knew the layout well. There was a big brouhaha when Borders was trying to move into town. The local booksellers got up in arms and, led by the owner of this particular store, fought hard to keep Borders out. In the end, Borders won and built a beautiful new building, which I enjoy very much. I was kind of angry with the local seller and have been half-way boycotting the store, but I forgot about that and was lured in by a couple of calendars I saw in the window. I do some shopping for our calendar each year and this time they had one about Australian wildlife. Now that Im becoming more familiar with things Australian, I thought it would be a nice reminder to have that calendar to look at in the kitchen each day, so I went in to get it. But it was disconcerting to see that everything had been rearranged and I couldnt find anything else that I was looking for. I must be getting too old. I cant take all these changes.
I decided to start back to the car. I discovered there is a brand new music store in town that Id never seen before. And the old gift shop is now a computer store. When did that happen? They were putting a stage up in the performing plaza thats dedicated to Paul, in anticipation of tonights Christmas tree lighting. I thought about how Paul would have grumbled about the corny small town tradition, but I noticed that it was nice that the stage didnt cover up the plaque dedicated to Paul, or the bricks dedicated to Paul and David. I didnt recognize anybody on the city crew, nor did they know me. Thats a big change too. They looked like kids. Did our children look that young when they were the ones to be setting up the stage for all the special events?
I was almost back to the parking lot. I passed by the toy store that used to be the only department store in town. And Blockbuster used to be a bank. Ive lived in this town so long that I now identify things by what used to be there, and wonder when these interlopers came in and changed the look of the downtown I used to know so well.
Before I returned home, I did some shopping at the supermarket. Tony wasnt there. Hes a homeless guy whose picture I took a couple of weeks ago. He asked me if he could have a copy and told me that he could be found every day on the bench outside the supermarket. Ive been there several times and have yet to connect with him. I carry his photos with me, hoping to see him. Walt found him sitting at the bus stop the other day, but I couldnt find him there either.
I did my shopping and went to pay for the groceries. As I do every
week, I slid my ATM card through the machine and entered my PIN number. The thought
flitted through my mind, that doesnt sound quite right... And the
machine rejected the number. Ive been using this card for years and the number had
just completely gone out of my head. I had to end up charging the groceries instead. When
I got back into the car to return home, I was still trying to remember the PIN number and
thinking about all the changes Id seen downtown, and I realized that the inevitable
had finally happened: Im officially an old fart.
|created 11/28/00 by Bev Sykes|