Friday, August 13, 2010

city walk, #3

The rain was quickly evaporating from the city streets and sidewalks as we headed out on the rope, a line of two year olds off to see the world. Perhaps it was the scent of fresh rain slowly vanishing under the smell of steaming asphalt that sent the two year olds into a frenzy. Or perhaps they could detect the city coming back to life after the morning's thunderstorm. Whatever it was, it quickly become clear to us that it was a day of exploration.

Everything needed to be hit- the iron fence posts, the posters advertising drink specials, the cool frosted glass in basement windows right at their level, window screens, even people standing to the side letting us pass were not excused from the fast, rhythmic hits of the two-year-old hands, investigating the different sounds, textures and reactions as they thumped each different object.

The rain left behind puddles and every child took a giant jump somewhere near the puddle in hopes of landing in the cooling water. Only a few managed to succeed in a proper splash. Some jumped over it, some started in the puddle and jumped out of it, others jumped sideways instead of forward. Each child that missed looked down at their feet in sadness and confusion when they landed without a splash, as though their feet had betrayed them.

On a day of exploration pigeons are too tempting. As they flock together in the square, bobbing their gray heads up and down, walking in circles, they must send out a message only two-year-olds can hear, "come pet me, I'll stay right here" or maybe "I bet you can't catch me..." The middle of the rope bowed toward them as two little boys tried to pull us straight into the flock. The pigeons only glanced at the on-coming little feet and slowly moved to the side, knowing that children on a rope do not threaten their party. Eventually one two year old couldn't stand it any longer and left the rope behind as he sprinted toward the birds.

Chasing him down didn't take long- my fully grown legs against his wobbly ones- but I could hear the others in the square chuckling. You can hardly blame the child for making a break for it. The power you feel when you move an entire flock of birds with just your nearing presence is too much to resist.

Down the street of an area known for its late night parties, we marched along, counting the motorcycles parked outside, thankful the children could not read the signs announcing dance parties, happy hour prices, and upcoming bands. Every doorway needed to be ducked into, and every step walked up and down by each rope-holding child. We plodded along ritualistically, in, out, up, down, again and again.

Suddenly the rope jerked and we realized we'd yet again passed something the two year olds could not resist. Someone in the middle of the rope had grabbed a single crutch resting alongside a brick fence. We pried the prize from his hands- a prize taller than he was, and returned it to its resting place, giving hurried apologizes to everyone standing near by.

Two fire trucks, too many metro buses to count, dogs, construction men, brick layers, runners, toddlers, professionals hurrying to lunch dates, we passed them all. One construction worker had left his lunch out on the side of a brick wall while he chatted with his friends, the cap off his water bottle. Quickly the water bottle was in the hands of one friend, but we were quicker and grabbed it away before he could get a sip.

"Look at that tiny car" we announced, trying to distract them- waving at the smartcar ahead of us. The kids looked down at the sidewalk and then back at us, confused because they could not see anything that small. To them a smartcar is just another car.

We finally turned the corner to our own block and headed back to school, exhausted from the adventures and explorations of the short walk. I will never look at those city streets the same way again.

1 comment:

Scott said...

Through the eyes of young children, everything becomes an adventure. I'm always amazed at what they notice and what interests them. I felt like I was on that rope line with you as I read. Thanks for the trip around the city.

(Did the construction worker realize how close he came to losing that water?)