Monday, November 09, 2009

curtains never open, faces never show

I walk the back lanes these days, to the store.  It fills my need for new perspectives.  Familiarity, it seems, had made me oblivious to my surroundings, more blind to the details than the cataracts ever did.  And I live in the details.

Today I passed the lady who wears her hair piled in a top knot.  She must have been told once that she looks like Katherine Hepburn, as I have never seen her without that iconic hair style.  She also favours the back lanes, it seems.

I like pretending that I am lost in a new city, as I let the meandering lanes lead me in loops and switchbacks of fences and garage doors.  There are no straight lines in the suburbs.  But there are dogs who warn me to keep walking buster, and there are kitchen windows that gaze blankly at empty patio furniture.  I like being removed from the drone of traffic by a single row of houses, artifacts of the great oil epoch.  But mostly I like looking into the lives that people choose not to show to the world. 

14 comments:

kelly said...

we don't have back lanes...i miss those, was a great place to play growing up

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Kelly, although I usually consider back lanes to be a waste of space, lately they have felt like an alternative universe, and I enjoy that.

John Mutford said...

I'm not even sure I know what they are.

bloody awful poetry said...

Aw you just made me feel really sad for some reason.

Also I think we have back lanes here, but mostly they're all full of rats and leftover food and broken glass and the odd illegal immigrant or two.

Remi said...

"There are no straight lines in the suburbs."

So true and a great line.

Maureen said...

no back lanes here....hell no lanes! well except my son, but he's a capital Lane :) I have to drive to get a different perspective here, but walks along the shore are always great

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Really, John? They're lanes that run parallel to the street, behind the house. They make sense in areas with backyard garages, but around here they have them even in areas with front garages, which is just stupid.

You must have picked up on my pensiveness, BAP. You've pretty much described a downtown backlane around here (substituting homeless for illegal immigrant), but in the white bread burbs they are full of trucks and motorhomes.

Why thank you, Remi. The odd time one will fall into my lap.

Walks along the shore would foster a whole different category of musings, Maureen. But you can't bring any groceries home with you.

Evelyne said...

This is why I like to take the commuter train here in Montreal to go to the suburbs. In the train, you can see backyards and as you said, what people chose not to show to the world. The transition from some poor areas of Montreal to the somewhat rich suburbs is striking. But it's not as fun when the train passes behind industrial buildings, it gets a big ugly; and my environmentalist heart aches.

Allison said...

I've only really ever encountered back lanes here, and in England. I'm still getting used to living in a backwards house, it creates a bit of chaos in the streets, especially with lots of kids, but it's also really communal at the same time. x

Great post!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

So true, Evelyne, you do see a whole other sort of back lane from the commuter train. Some really interesting graffiti too. Do you see any improvement in the big industrial areas?

You live in a backwards house, Al? Sounds intriguing, please elucidate.

Allison said...

Ha! Well, it just feels so odd that I've never been to the front of the house, or through the front door, the whole back lane thing really messes with your head when you're used to entering through the nice clean front facade of a house.

Back lanes - shattering the illusions of suburbia. Kind of. ;)

kelly said...

maybe its a regional thing, we always called them back alleys

Barbara Bruederlin said...

It's true, Al. It's where the nasty little necessities of life happen in the burbs - the groceries being hauled in, the garbage out. Strangely, the pizza gets delivered to the front door.

We did too, Kelly, in Winnipeg. I think it very much is a regional thing.

Charlie said...

"I like pretending that I am lost in a new city ..."

I love that line. If we stop pretending, then we've lost our imagination, curiosity, and sense of wonder—all those things we had as kids.