This is My Crowd

This is My Crowd
Picture by: Photography by Vicky Campos

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Night Walkers

Every now and then I get a wild hair to do something kind of random and lucky for me most of the time my kids get on board pretty easily. 

On Sunday evening around 5:30pm I decided that the kids and I should go for a walk.  Now, if it were during the summer or even last month, it would not have been unique.  However, it being the 20th of November, it was dark outside and CoLd! 

We bundled up, even the baby, and headed out.

We didn't know where we were going.  It was, what I like to call, an adventure!  I knew I didn't just want to walk around the block.  That would have been boring.  So, instead of turning right on the street just North of our street, we made a left.  As we made our way down the poorly lit, sidewalk-less street I began to second guess my choice.  But, I was brave, if for no other reason than I refuse to show silly fear in front of my kids.  Instead, I was excited. 

About halfway to Palm Avenue, which has actual street lights, I realized there was movement in the distance.  It was tall enough to be a human being, but it appeared to float from side to side.  It was clear the person was on either a bike or a skateboard.  Jacob took notice of it also, but he had just a the slightest hint of discomfort in his voice when he disclosed his discovery.  I assured him that I saw the individual and we scooted over a bit closer to the curb line.  As the man passed us on his bike, probably equally concerned we were some sort of street gang primarily made up of little people, my kids made him feel better by yelling "Hi!"  "Hello!"  "Hi!"  "Hello!", until finally he responded in kind. 

At this point we were like a little over a block away from home and only narrowly avoided a street battle, so far so good.  So when it came time to head either North or South on Palm, South being the direction to head if we wanted to quickly wrap up our excursion, we headed North!  The baby being asleep by this point, my boys were demanding some sort of explanation as to my plan.  I told them flatly that I didn't have one, we were wingin' it, flyin' by the seat of our pants. 

Walking up Palm Avenue, I realized that there is a lot of traffic.  With three loose little boys, I was quick to make sure they remained within sprinting distance.  Fortunately, my children are very aware of who would win if they went up against a vehicle, so we didn't even have any "close calls".  They did, however, remain quite curious as to the plan, as did I. 

When we found ourselves at Sierra Avenue, we were faced with another decision, turn right to head back home on the familiar route or remain heading North.  Turning left, wasn't really an option since it just headed into a neighborhood.  At that moment, I decided we weren't stopping until we got to Starbucks!  The plan was finally coming together and cocoa was definitely on the agenda. 

I only have one small character trait that emerges during moments like these, I hold my cards close to my chest.  As we crossed over into the unexplored world North of Sierra Avenue, the kids started to get a bit nervous.  Not scared, just a little concerned that I may not really know where I was going, but confident it was going to be fun. 

As we headed up Palm Avenue toward Herndon Avenue, it occurred to me that there were areas on the side of the street we were traversing that did not have sidewalk.  Had it been just me, it would not have been an issue of concern, but with three boys and a stroller, I was silently praying that a safe path would appear.  By this point, the boys were more comfortable with the idea that they'd never been down this particular road on foot and the baby was snoozing away.  It was getting pretty cold, but between hats and jackets and running too far ahead and back again, we were all comfortable. 

Then it happened.  The dark, overgrown end of the sidewalk appeared.  It was hard to see at first.  Part of me wondered if we'd have to walk through some sort of plant formed tunnel, but sure enough we could go no further.  We had three choices, turn back and find a cross walk, bolt across the four lane road to the other side or walk in the bike lane in hopes that a sidewalk would reappear.  We chose option three.

Fortunately, we only walked in the street for maybe twenty or thirty feet, but for that minute or two, we were living on the edge. 

Finding our way back on to a beaten path, we found ourselves being attacked by dogs on the other side of a very tall fence clearly labeled as housing security of the canine variety.  What was not clear was whether or not the dogs could break through the broken board and gaps.  Assuming that we were basically safe, I just warned the boys that if we didn't hasten our pace, the vicious mongrels might burst through and bite us.  It didn't happen and they were likely small breed dogs, but it sure did put a little pep in our step. 

Just as we passed Piazza del Pane, our destination came into view.  The green, glowing logo told the boys more clearly than I could have what my plan was, cocoa.  Excitement rippled through them like a shock wave, which may sound like an exaggeration, but you must understand that they very rarely get Starbucks or Dutch Bros and when they do, it is something to celebrate.

We carefully crossed the parking lot and made it to the door, where Domenic opened the door for the baby and I.  Once inside, I headed to the counter with the baby and the boys occupied three leather arm chairs and proceeded to look at the newspaper and chat.  It was a delightful sight for me to observe from across the room, my little men. 

Once we had our hot beverages and heated brownie, which we would split four ways, we decided to sit outside.  Between our bundling and the hot drinks, I knew we'd start overheating soon.  Someone brought the newspaper and there we sat on the patio discussing life.  At this point, the baby woke up to get some brownie, which she was quite pleased with.  I believe the term "best night ever" were tossed out, but who can be sure. 

Along the way home we took some pictures and had more fun, but the magical mystery of having an unknown destination was gone, though we did pass in front of an imposing, abandoned home.  There was some speculation as to whether or not it was haunted, but those sparks were quickly snuffed as I explained that the spirits of people who have passed-on do not remain on the earth.  There are only two choices.  Though I know this to be true, at night that very cool, two-story, brick home is a little creepy, even to me. 

We took the long way home that night; making our way down Palm Avenue, crossing over to Maroa Avenue by way of Sierra Avenue and found ourselves at home once again.  Once inside, we peeled off our outer layers of coats and hats and scarves only to find the air filled with coconut curry chicken... the perfect end to a perfect evening. 

Here are some pictures:

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