I’ve been working from home the past couple days. Penny’s been sick, and Brian’s out of town, so I have to stay home to take care of her. She’s doing much better; in fact she’s being a total brat. Though I’m glad to see her feeling better, giving her food and medicine’s become a bit of an ordeal. A messy, drooly, frustrating ordeal. It’s a battle of wills. And she’s winning, because I hate having to play “mean mommy.” I’m counting my blessings that she’s not hissy and violent like Trish. Please God, never let Trish get sick.
I feel like a jerk saying this — but I’ll feel relieved when I drop Penny off at the vet tomorrow, knowing she’s in good capable, professional hands while I try to return to my normal life of going to the office and interacting with adults who don’t work at the vet’s office. For all the grousing I do about the grind of going to work and all that, sitting at home all day is —pardon my candor — fuckin’ boring. Despite knowing how much Penny needs me and how much I’m doing for her right now the feeling of un-productivity is making me stir-crazy.
So I’ve been doing odd chores around the house, washing bedding (because Penny drooled all over our sheets today), vacuuming, stuff like that. One of the lights in our laundry room has been out for a while, so I decided to walk to the new Ace Hardware a block away and pick up some light bulbs. Of course the bulbs I got didn’t fit the fixture — stupid CFLs — but I digress.
Walking back from the hardware store it occurred to me how lucky I am to have so many amenities within yards of my front door. There’s ACE, Walgreens, Hancock Fabrics, Subway, a dry cleaners and a freaking bowling alley! The shopping center is totally unassuming, just there to serve the neighborhood (and bowlers). And then there are two parks on either side of us.
It was one of the neighborhood’s biggest draws for me not just for the convenience, but because it reminded me so much of my grandma’s neighborhood in New Orleans, which was built around the same time. On one side was a shopping center with a bank, a little grocery (Mimi’s), a hardware store and a drugstore (which I think was called Crown and B&B at various points). A couple blocks down was a Canal Villere (now Robert’s), Walgreens, A&P (this later became an athletic club), K&B, Baskin Robbins… Now I don’t remember if all of this stuff existed at the same time because it seems a bit ridiculous to have two drugstores and two grocery stores in the same strip mall. There was no reason to drive anywhere. Even when I was older and would visit by myself, my car would stay parked on Sardonyx Street for most of my stay. (Yes, I went downtown…on the bus.)
Anyway, at least here in Memphis, it seems like that notion of “neighborhood places” has fallen by the wayside. For every place like High Point Terrace or certain parts of Midtown there are countless areas where the houses are so isolated from services and amenities that you can’t get anything done without getting in the car. And I’m not just talking about the suburbs here. For all Cooper/Young’s attractions — the restaurants, bars, Burke’s, Java Cabana and even the Mini-Mart — you still have to hike to Ike’s or Rite-Aid to get a prescription filled. Mind you, I’m not saying Cooper/Young needs a Rite-Aid. I’m saying damn near everything is lined up on Poplar and Union so no matter how close you are, walking or biking is neither safe nor convenient.
I just heard today that a company is working on a plan to redevelop Overton Square after an Oklahoma company’s plans fell flat. Here’s hoping it’s full of not just cool hangouts, but “neighborhood places” to accomodate the people who live nearby. I’m not the type to pine for the good ole’ days, but I wouldn’t mind a revival.