Left Behind

Over the weekend, my partner and I decided that, as much as we loved the penthouse condominium with the hardwood floors, the private park, the rooftop pools, and the gorgeous grocery store, we just could not work the deal the sellers wanted.

This morning, I walked over to the sales office with a letter explaining why we were leaving the deal behind. The sign on the door said the office would be open at 11:00am. With 45 minutes to kill, I bought a cup of coffee and a blank notebook. That was when I realized there were no benches on that section of 5th Street.

I tucked the empty notebook into my bag and went for a walk.

The transition between the new building and the surrounding neighborhood was harsh, abrupt. One minute I was walking on a new, clean sidewalk paved with pretty red bricks. The next minute I was on dirty cement, cracked and worn, with human detritus everywhere. I considered spinning on my heels and going back the way I came, but someone had suggested I look at my errands today as an adventure.

I kept walking.

I started to keep a list of the things I saw as I walked: empty liquor bottle, cigarette butts, soda cans, a plastic grocery bag, a half-full bottle of window cleaner, a box of Steak-Ums being guarded by a starling, cardboard boxes…

I realized I was not paying attention to where I was going. I lifted my head and saw that I was being watched from a police car. I stepped up my pace and headed back toward the condo building, my goal the sales office.

I was nearly there when a small sound, reminiscent of my phone, caught my attention.

A real, rather than recorded, “chirp-chirp” came from a small bird, on a branch, near my head. I watched, amused, as it swooped down into the sparsely planted ornamental grasses at the base of the sapling. An odd shade of orange caught my eye. Thanking the Wii Fit for my new-found stability, I squatted down for a closer look.

Someone had planted candy corn in with the grass and trees.

I laughed, though not loud enough to attract the attention of the contractors putting the finishing touches on the building we are not moving into. Even though it was well after 11, the sales office was still closed. I saw the agent I needed to work with through the front window. Impatient, I walked in anyway and talked to her. My errand completed, I headed back to my apartment.

I found myself cataloging again the odd things I saw along the way: a used condom, a car-crushed Barbie doll, two feral cats, a homeless man wrapped in clear plastic…

My partner and I decided we are going to move out of the city, away from this environment. I don’t like turning a blind eye to the things, mislaid, misplaced, or just plain left behind by someone else. It bothers me that I didn’t pick up the trash, that I simply took photos of it. I am no longer comfortable walking from island to island of cleanliness through a sea of human garbage.

Although, I do like the candy corn planted among the ornamental grass. I hope it grows.

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