Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Speedwalking down memory lane

I'm not used to being on holiday. I had a lot of nervous energy to burn before my hair appointment yesterday, so I walked to it - fast, as I didn't realize I could until an hour before I was to be in the chair. And yes, I did get shin splints, ow, and yes, Yay Kathi! the cut did force some of the grey to curl with the rest.

My route took me through my old neighbourhood, which hasn't changed much, except that even in this economy the houses are probably worth more than when I rented a flat in a dilapidated place on a quiet street there. As I understand it they were originally tenements for poor labourers; not one boasts a parking space, or more than a few square feet of back yard, and a freight train line crosses within a block or two of the whole group, rattling their windows. Since the 1980s they've been charming if teeny-tiny slices of prime real estate for the cautious wealthy. Each narrow house is like a carefully designed chocolate in a box of the best, with every postage-stamp yard landscaped for maximum impact and every door freshly painted. Not one would list for less than a million or two.

I have never stopped trying to figure out what makes these houses so special, if only to make mine look as fabulous, but no matter how much I copy their details I can't pull it off. I've ruled out the black doors, the hostas in front, and the brickwork pathways. I have yet to hang heavy brocade draperies in the window to flank a solitary but impeccable sculpture because I would go broke doing it. And that's okay, because I suspect their secret really is in their small size, and the way they huddle together, each one determined to put the best face on their collective limitations.

If that's true, it's astonishing, because it means my own tiny house is too big. Big enough, thankfully, to store a heating pad and ice pack in while I sort out those shin splints. Ow ow ow.

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