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100 Days of Gladness: Day 15

Knowing My Way Around the Streets, by Car and by Foot

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As I challenge myself to dig into appreciating 100 days of gladness, I’m finding stuff in my backlog of unacknowledged gratitude that I had no idea was there. One of which is: knowing my way around.

And I’m starting with knowing my way around the streets of my actual neighborhood. Like, I know which road will lead me to Jericho Turnpike via the road that goes under the train tracks.

And I know that if I’m going to Seventh Street in Garden City, it’s usually best to go the back way, along Adelphi University. There’s a perfect back road that lets you sail all the way there, avoiding a whole chunk of school traffic that would otherwise slow you down by a lot.

Then there’s the way you know that, while driving down Stewart Avenue, which is a heavily trafficked street, it’s best to stay in the middle lane. Big potholes on either side if you don’t.

I also know that if we’re going to Thyme Restaurant (our favorite, but it’s a little far away), we also take the service road parallel to the highway, which cuts off at least ten minutes of the ride.

And on the rare occasions that I go to the mall, I try to pair it with lunch so I can eat at Le Pain Quotidien. Because I know this is coming, I know to drive all the way around the mall, and park exactly outside the entrance where Pain Quotidien is closest.

We take these little knowledges for granted. But, in their humble ways, they matter.

When walking our neighborhood with Ruby, our friendly, stable, well-rounded Yorkie, we know to avoid Reed Avenue because there’s an aggressive dog on a rope, who’s left outside a lot. We feel for him. But he never has anything good to say about us or our dog.

We look for Jonathan, who’s usually walking his little brown poodle on Eweler Street. We named his dog, Molly, but we call her “Flying Molly” because she’s always in the air, jumping, jumping for joy. I take great pride in the fact that if I sit down on the sidewalk, she’ll come to me and be quiet. Only for a minute, but still…

We love running into Russell, an indiscriminate, white, mop-haired terrier that we all adore. His mother is an a lovely, young Indian woman, and their family lives close to Covert Elementary School. We’ve tried to make friends with her, but it never went deeper than the smiling hello. It’s okay. She lets us love Russell when we see him.

There’s also Luna, the amazing cat who lives with the family around the block from us. Luna’s human, teenager big sister, Sarah, walks him on a leash. And he’s fine with it. He often looks like he knows he’s walking her, but, you know, “let’s just go with it.”

And of course (but this doesn’t require knowing my way around the neighborhood, per se), there’s my beloved Daisy. She is a golden who retrieved and stole my heart and never gave it back. She lives in the house that borders our back yard. I first got to know her because she would just sit at our back fence and look at our house until we came out. She mostly waits for me, because she and I are the primary relationship, but she loves Elena too.

We’ve fallen into a curious little ritual with Daisy. She has an older sister (a beagle) named Rosie. When their family lets them out their own back door, Rosie starts barking. When Rosie barks, it’s the cue for our dog, Ruby, to let me know that Daisy’s out there. She knows it matters to me, that I love her for this. She alerts me to Daisy’s presence by barking with a specific, high intensity, almost panic, while spinning in maniacal circles until I notice that DAISY’S OUT THERE! DAISY’S OUT THERE! GO! GO! NOW!

And then I go out and shower Daisy with love. Ruby is polite, and sniffs her a little, then goes back to the house, her job done. I tell Daisy secrets. She listens through the chain link fence. She presses her body against it so I can scratch the good places. Then turns around so I can get the other side. Sometimes I lean over the fence to get a hug from her, and end up with the love scars on my arms.

I love knowing my way around this neighborhood. I love what I know about it that is tender. I’m grateful we were here long enough to learn about it, about the people, about the animals, about the streets and the trains and the service roads.

Lots of gratitude today.


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