Such is the difficulty of getting five GSPIAns in one place outside of class hours that we ended up holding our debate prep meeting on 1:00 on a Sunday. AKA, game time. You'd really think the coffee shop would have been mostly empty at the beginning of a Steeler game, but I suppose every grad student in the East End figured they were going to avoid the crowds.
Oh, and three of us ended up meeting. Really, it's just bloody impossible. The thing that's making my schedule tenable is the fact that I can write at 3AM if I have to, and that doesn't work for meetings. But you go to class with the study group you have...
Anyway, we met, we made progress. I decided that it was pretty silly to wait for buses on a Sunday (hell, I'd probably still be in Shadyside), so I took advantage of the beautiful weather and walked back home.
I like doing that every once in a while--a really good, long walk from Shadyside through Bloomfield. Past all the stores I can't afford to breathe near, past the beautiful and ludicrously overpriced homes, through the crunchy brown leaves, over the bridge to Shadyside Hospital. (You'd think after all these years that gulch would have lost its power to shock me; I still caught myself having a flash of vertigo halfway across, unable to head off the thought of the concrete giving way beneath my feet. Occupational hazard of the study of crumbling infrastructure: the Minnesota bridge collapse stays fresh in one's mind.)
Up the road, further yet. "Extraordinary Machine" starts running through my head. I still only travel by foot and by foot, it's a slow climb/But I'm good at being uncomfortable, so I can't stop changing all the time.
Just a bit up the street, I passed the intersection where I was struck by a car some years ago. (Yes, I was in the crosswalk, I had the walk light, all that good stuff.) There's an odd satisfaction that comes from looking at a spot and thinking that I could have died there. It's also the exact place where I started to learn that following the rules doesn't protect you from reckless jackasses who want to get where they're going regardless of the harm they cause in the process.
Everyone has their holy places, I guess.
Past the now-empty former Goodwill; past the now-empty car dealership that was my polling place for years. The big, tinselly Christmas decorations are already going up on Bloomfield's utility poles. Alexander's has already decorated its evergreen shrubs like Christmas trees. It still seems too soon.
Past the closed-for-the-weekend bank, past the open-for-now West Penn. Past the restaurant that's been poised on the verge of opening for the better part of this year; over some broken sidewalk slabs. It's quiet in Bloomfield, excepting the game-time sounds of the bars. The November sky is improbably, sparklingly, winkingly blue. I can't stop getting lost in it. This does not always mix well with aforementioned broken sidewalks; no matter, the streets are nigh abandoned and the blue gaze and I conspire in contented privacy.
Back to my daily stomping grounds... the grocery that has changed little since it dropped into being around 1975... the impossible intersection off the Bloomfield Bridge... the stone retaining walls and the old industrial facilities nestled comfortably with rowhouses and Woolslair Elementary. I arrive home, feeling exhausted and restored. The Steelers appear to have started the game without my help. The world goes on, however I choose to move through it.
Still have to work on the debate, though. Dammit.