Oak Park’s sidewalks are full and it’s become an issue the last few days. Well, according to social media it’s become an issue. I’ve been staying inside during the day because… see above I don’t want to deal with the sidewalk sharing issues that have begun to occur. I figured that walking at night would give me a chance to walk alone. I was right.
It was after 8, so my husband and I took the dog out for a walk. The streets were silent. My neighborhood is usually a busy place. But last night, like the streets in Ray Bradbury’s short story The Pedestrian, our streets were empty. There were no happy peals of laughter and calls of “good-bye!” as visitors left a house. No teens hung out in yard or on corners. Few cars drove past. The gate on the neighborhood playground was locked shut with a chain and padlock. A sign beside the gate announcing the park’s closing seemed extra and unnecessary.
The dog continuing to urge us onward, so we continued on our way, passing the lit windows of all our neighbors. I continually reminded myself, “They are all inside. They are all safe,” but I knew I was lying. The weren’t all safe.
We passed the home of a neighbor with an immune compromised toddler. The home of a neighbor with an immune compromised young adult child. The home of a neighbor who is going through chemo. She’s fighting stage four breast cancer. And now this, too. We passed home after home after home, and at each one I looked at their windows and knew that whomever was inside was also living in this unreal new world.
At nine o’clock a church bell’s toll could be heard in the otherwise silent darkness. I knew what that bell signified, and I could not stand the otherwise silent street any longer. We turned and walked home.