Thursday, July 24, 2008

outsider status

Biking home after a far west errand, I stopped at Owen Woods. It’s Madison’s underrated park. Besides those living within spittin’ distance of it, no one knows much about it and no one visits it. Which, I suppose, is a good thing. When you do go, it’s as quiet as the bottom of the Grand Canyon. (I’ve never been to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, but imagine it’s pretty quite there.)

I took a photo and contemplated whether I should take a walk down this path.

006 copy
Purchase photo 1909

I didn’t. I used to live close by and the path used to be a regular trek for me, but now I’m a neighborhood emigrant and I feel I don’t belong here.

It struck me that Owen Woods is just one small piece in a larger framework of not belonging. For instance, I’ve stopped going to a book club that was neighborhood based. In my mind, I don’t share the issues of the neighborhood anymore. It’s as if I were to crash a condo rooftop party here (there’s one tonight, for all you condo party crashers!) when I move on to a place in Florida, or a nursing home or something. (BTW, I’m not ever going to move to Florida.)

Of course, one could dig deeper and tell me this: you don’t belong because when you lived there, you were married and had children who went to school there. That’s then. Now you ride a bike to work and have not seen Jason the color genius for months and when you passed your kids’ high school just this afternoon, it seemed strangely foreign.

What surprises me is that when I go back to Poland, although I am not always happy there, I feel, for better or worse, that I do belong.

Strange, how childhood neighborhoods never leave your gut, but other places, ones where you happily planted perennials and lilacs and roses, seem so very far away. Even though they’re just three miles down the road from where you now live.