I spotted them almost half a mile away. My first full day out and about, I decided to go to a familiar and difficult place to stretch my legs: the final home of such people as Foster, Dunlop and Mead. I don't know who these people were or what they did, but their elaborate homes are familiar markers in that vast community I have gone through many times before. Hence the easy part. No so easy if the pain were to return as I rarely see anything living in that vast city...unless you count the wild bird that startled me two springs ago on it's quest for nuts in the grass.
This time there was another human being, and a tiny canine wearing a red padded jacket to boot. The woman was trying to get the dog to move, but she refused, steadfast with her little frame, waiting for me to come down that winding road.
" Are you happy now? Here she comes...she wanted to wait for you." The owner said, as if they had been expecting me all along. The woman was very old, thin frame, with short cropped hair. She tugged on the leash. " Come on Gertrude". The dog looked up at me, now walking along side them and continued to walk ahead of me and my new companion.
" I walk her here every week, all the security guards know me" she paused and then chuckled as she looked around. " And all the dead know me too."
" I think I can say the same thing, at least about the dead."
" Oh you come here often too? Funny this is the first time we're meeting. I've been walking through here for almost 20 years. It's a nice place to get solitude."
We walked the entire length of that city, her giving me the story of her life: the husband she's had for 45 years, the small house with the 1906 parlor "thank god, not small enough where your knees would touch". Glad her husband was about to retire so that they can finally get away to St. Augustine, Florida.
Gertrude, pausing to make sure I was still between her and her owner, looking up at me and trying to jump up, though her paws barely reached my knees. At the end, the guards sure enough greeted her warmly and she said she hoped that she would meet me again sometime.
" You know, when I was younger I use to take laps around one of those pools in the city. This is your lap. You'll never get lonely or depressed here. You have a great way of clearing your mind. Hope to see you again." She told me her name was Ann.
I bid her farewell and made my way back through that city again to my entrance. The guard smiled and said " You walked the whole length huh?"
"Yup." Maybe he'll remember me next time.
Deconstructing the High Line - Next Tuesday, October 24 at 6:30pm, the editors of the book Deconstructing the High Line: Postindustrial Urbanism and the Rise of the Elevated Park will ex...
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