Which is pretty much the only kind of drive you can do around the neighborhood. It’s pretty short itself, and dead ends. There is actually more than one way in or out, but you kind of have to know that, otherwise you’ll be driving in an endless maze. In some cases you will find yourself on a dead end dirt road, with big loose angry dogs and protective roosters at the end. (Yes, this actually happened to me.) I was actually shocked. There are dirt roads here? I live a mile outside the city limits, for God’s sake. How can there be dirt roads?
So take this little trip with me. My street is about three blocks long. So I went from my street to the next one, which is two blocks long, took a right, and then a left onto the “main” road into the neighborhood, and another three blocks to the convenience store at the corner of the main road and the real actual main road, Monroe Street, aka, U.S. Highway 27. Yes. I could have walked.
That little convenience store is also a Chevron station, or primarily a Chevron station, which is a very popular destination, because it normally has the cheapest gas you can buy in Tallahassee. Lucky me. When I do buy gas (not often) I go there if I can. Even I can occasionally be frugal. The best investment I ever made was buying my current car. I can go 50 miles on two gallons of gas. I pretty much hate the car, except for that part. But I digress.
The station/store is owned and mostly staffed by Africans. By which, I do not mean African-Americans. I no longer go there very often, but I’ve been a few times in the last year and never have seen my favorite convenience store clerk ever, whom I believe is from Nigeria. He’s been studying to be an architect. But he was there when I walked in today and we were both beaming. He said, Where have you been? I said, No, where have YOU been? He said, in that formal English that immigrants use…I took some time off to concentrate on my studies, and I will graduate next month. I said, I’ll come back before that month is over. I’ll take him a present. And I will find out his name, which sadly I’ve never done. His circumstances remind me of the book House of Sand and Fog. Which I hated. Not because it isn’t a good book, but because it’s so gut-wrenching.
So now we leave the convenience store and travel three more blocks down the main highway to the liquor store. (Yes, I could walk there too.) Normally I leave trips to the liquor store until Sunday, but I had a wine emergency. So I walk in the store, and there are two clerks, one ancient guy and a very young woman. They’re listening to the FSU/Florida game on the radio. I said, So how are we doing? The ancient guy says, well it just started and Florida has the ball. The girl says, I thought you were talking to me.
I love these little random encounters. Many people hate them and feel invaded by them. Like, could I just go buy gas and wine and be done with it? I had a whole conversation once with a guy who saw the book in the bottom of my grocery basket. (I always take a book, in case I have to wait in line.) And with a different guy in the grocery store while wearing my little clip-on sunglasses that you can flip up. He said, did you know those were invented by baseball players?
Now, on our short drive, we leave the liquor store and turn left. We go three blocks and turn onto Cangrove Street, which I can never remember the name of after 12 years in this neighborhood. I always want to call it Canberra Street. From Canberrra, we jig left and then right. We try to time it just right, because you can’t see around the corners. There are way too many trees and shrubs around here.
And then we are home. Having made a little tiny circle around the neighborhood.