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A Walk Through Four Baltimore County Neighborhoods
Saturday Morning, 10:08 to 11:16 A.M., July 17 2021
The large parking lot of the supermarket he worked night crew on in 1993 and 94 was nearly empty as he headed north.
Over it he passed and east by northeast along Eastern Avenue for thirty seconds until a shiver hit him as he passed under the power lines where he had slept when estranged form his wife one night in 1993. An asphalt drive wended under the lines like a path into a misbegotten past.
Up out of East Point he walked across the interstate interchange and noted the weeds cracking the pavement. Recalling the two hours he spent yesterday ripping three foot weeds out of his Baltimore City host's drive way, shadows of Baltimore Septembers past danced in his mind's eye. With frequent thunderstorms the past few summers and the mid Atlantic welter, the weeds grow faster than ever, cracking open the pavement, towering to ten feet and crowding the sidewalks to the curb, sending the pedestrian scurrying into the street, bringing night early and damping streetlights into the cool breezy nights.
His recent walks in the City have shown no effort to weed or cut back encroaching brush from the cracking pavements, dooming the future city to green reconquest. Here, out beside the wide highway lanes and under the roaring interstate bridgework, weeds and grass are cut down, but are not scraped out, the weeds and crab grass free to shatter man's sterile dream despite his show at keeping it down and at bay.
Ahead of him stands are large bird, smaller than a vulture, brown, larger than a crow. As he nears he sees it is a red tail hawk, apparently unable to fly. To the north and east are the realms of Sea Hawks and eagles. He stands gingerly upon the curb, looking down upon the highway from the highest eminence he remains capable of ascending. The predator glances sideways at the ambling ape and shivers. The intruder walks around in the grass, respectful of the fallen tyrant of the sky.
Up towards Diamond Point he walks and notes that the grass is only cut down horizontally not cut back, the sidewalks swallowed by stages, fated to be greened over in a few years.
Diamond Point shopping center, a model of mass merchandising in 1992, home to one of the first club store in the area, is completely closed. Before the vacant department stores and eateries is gathered a complex of tents, a flee market, with the tables, generators, merchant vans and customer cars all crowding in like Goths camping in the forum of Rome.
[The entire flee market will be blown over by a thunderstorm of unusual ferocity at 4:00 P.M.]
It takes five minutes to cross Back River Bridge, whispering of a respect that will be regained by such estuaries once the 20th century spans of steel and concrete fall from ill-repair.
Essex yawns in pink at the mass transit park and ride, where a man waves an American flag over a gathering of cute working class women holding pink signs printed in white with WOMEN FOR TRUMP. The base looking babe in her shorts and halter says, “High, how are you?” and he smiles, “Fine,” meaning her figure.
Vacant storefronts, mixed with those that remain, near and recede on all sides as the ground flattens out and he regains a youthful pace. And sweat soaks his clothes as he realizes he is 25% off his prime pace. The most prominent storefront lettering in gold is owned by a bankruptcy agency, handling Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 clients.
The bars he once attended are carry out liquor stores.
The barber shops are no longer signed in English.
The DMV of 1994 where he got his drivers learning permit, is now a welfare agency.
Few people are on foot in the weltering heat save fat latinos sipping cola.
Into Middlesex he treads, where he worked in Autumn of 1992, past Fattie's Bar & Grill on the left and the garden apartments where he shacked up with Suzy on the right.
He crosses Route 702 near the infamous caged footbridge and reaches the Middle River neighborhood, 1.5 miles short of that river, where he offloaded from Baltimore City to work three nights a week from November 2010 thru December 2017. At his feet were heroin syringes on the sidewalk tread by the blond woman and her afro-headed toddler in their flip flops...
He wondered then, at the power of weeds to crumble cities, and if people who stayed behind in the blight as he had for 38 years, among all of this windblown trash on the roadsides, were not weeds as well, weeds made of meet and animated by hate and need?
Rightward and eastward he walked to his destination, headed east into a once and future wooded point of land, jutting into a bay which had a visible bottom when his ancestors arrived, a water that now lapped dark at the sordid edge of an accursed shore.
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