I think Steven Spielberg and Stephen King were both with me this morning. As is usually the case, it was very early morning and most people were still dreaming of their own private universes as I meandered across a few miles of the urban landscape. Since I had such a nice adventure yesterday morning in a strange city, I had no expectations that this morning’s walk would be as interesting. The universe proved my assumption to be wrong, for which I’m thankful.
I thought that 6th Street in Little Rock, North was fascinating, coming west from Main Street. An abandoned church sat patiently on the corner of 6th and Main, and its steps were adorned with a small pile of brush and a tire. Perversely, I felt the pull to walk up the short steps and yank on the door. What I might do if it were open to me would have been an interesting conundrum. I’d like to think I would have entered.
There are so many interesting houses packed with peculiarities that it’s difficult to find enough time to swivel one’s eyes from one detail to the next. One house, in particular, surprised me due to the quantity and quality of Halloween decorations the owners had packed into the relatively narrow front yard. The porch roof even had a skeleton climbing down face-first, peering underneath the porch. I thought it possible that the owner himself might be a reaper and was using the astounding mass of decorations to conceal his identity, right out in the open. The house next to this decorated one was a beauty, too. Later in the day, I used Google Streetview to find the houses. To my surprise, the 2nd house from the abandoned church didn’t exist in 2013. Someone built it later that year; whoever did so deserves a clap of appreciation, as it is an astounding residence constructed to reflect the history found literally next door. It is a house of substance and evocative of so many elements we once loved and appreciate in our homes.
Turning south onto Orange Street, though, is where the orange glow of the morning blanketed everything. The lights in the area were dim, just bright enough to cast an eerie sheen on everything. Even the modern vehicles parked meticulously along the curb didn’t seem incongruous against the backdrop of pristinely-maintained historic homes. I felt like I’d been there before, truth be told. There were a couple of residences where the upper windows were left uncovered, as is often the case with higher floors, as people stop thinking that they could be observed through them. In one, a ceiling light was on and I could see the wide white trim and walls. As I looked, a woman passed by the window and as she did, she briefly looked down directly at me. For a moment I thought it was the actress Mary-Louise Parker. She had long, flowing black hair. The light went out in the upper hallway. I couldn’t shake the feeling that Mary-Louise had turned back to peer down at me as I walked, wondering what I made of her presence. Since I’ve acquired the habit, I waved up to the window as I walked away, hoping that if she were indeed peering askance at me that she might wonder if I could see her. Early morning hours grant magic to a select few, of this I’m beginning to be more certain.
Passing further along the street, I could feel myself going back in time as I walked along that old street. By the time I reached the area with the community gardens west of the Presbyterian church to my left, the effect was palpable. I felt like Christopher Reeve’s character in “Somewhere in Time,” after he put on his anachronism of a suit and feverishly willed himself backward in time.
In my ear, I could almost hear Mr. Spielberg and King whisper, “This is your time. Stay and drown in this moment.”
And I could have resided there, in space and time, suspended.
Whatever confluence of decisions created and maintained this neighborhood, I will remember it. I almost loathe the idea of returning and seeing it in the duller light of day. The magician of the early morning will have departed, leaving me this memory.
(I’ll put the pictures below if you are interested…)