Tuesday, September 11, 2012
9/10 #opwalkabout: Bridgeport, CT and Neon Hightops
Thus far I've been through the "South Side" of most cities and towns between Boston and New Haven. That's not saying much. Elmwood Ave. and surrounding areas in Providence, RI remind me of Roslindale/ Roxbury. If you'll pardon the turn of phrase, it's pussy shit in comparison to Bridgeport.
The moment I crossed into the city I had a primal urge to flag down a cab for anywhere. Instead I pointed myself South/ South West and headed Downtown. I traipsed the cracked sidewalk on Barnum Ave from the Stratford border into Mission Hill. I'd walked from New Haven on rt. 1, and the sun was setting behind the hill to the West. I could hear the Slam. Slam. Slam of roll down doors and grates closing over windows, barring points of entry behind me and down the street. Racing the sun. I giggled a little hysterically thinking back to "Pitch Black"
"Whatever you do… stay in the light"
Seeing a sign for Bridgeport Hospital, pulling out my phone I double checked the time and my route. There was no way I could make the Route 25 and Route 1 intersection before dark. Much less have a guaranteed safe place to hang and wait for my ride. A friend from college lives about 20 minutes away so I'd dropped her a text letting her know I was aiming for the teaching hospital. I followed signs and kept a weather eye out as I circled the block and headed up the hill.
Glancing over my shoulder I could see that Neon Hightops was still on my tail (that's what I call the guy who was following me), so I stopped to smoke a butt with a gaggle of hospital staff and struck up a conversation. Neon Hightops kept walking. Once I saw he was up the street and on another block, I crushed out my smoke said polite goodbyes and headed for the Mental Health Center.
I flashed the receptionist a friendly smile. I don't recall the woman's name, but look of kind understanding came over her face when I explained that I was "not from around here" and "could really stand to use the restroom". She granted me access and gave me an affirmative when I asked if I could wait until my ride arrived. Business completed I walked out for a smoke and to look for an out of the way spot to post up.
I stretched out, resting my feet on the edge of the grass across a trench dug out in front of the bench by so many nervous feet. Waiting in the rest and recreational area near the Mead St. parking lot wasn't bad. Considering the only other option I'd been entertaining was to hide under a bush. But that was before I saw the signs for the hospital.
A resident shuffled out, nurse in attendance. The woman in scrubs eyed my walking stick. "Is that your staff?"
"No ma'am, it's my walking stick" I replied. The gentleman glanced over as well.
"That's a nice stick" he said, pointing and spitting on himself simultaneously. He brushed absently at the remains of his previous meal, still on his shirt. Startled, my only response was "Thank you sir"
They asked me what I was doing, and I explained. They came back with the now familiar response of "stamps are pretty cheap you know". I sighed, and said "yup, you're probably right." We chatted a bit longer, and my phone went off indicating my ride's arrival. I bid the two farewell shouldered my pack and headed down the hill.