Don’t Assume I’m Homeless. Just because you see me walking along the highway. I’m simply bored walking the same flat streets in my neighborhood. The uneven terrain along the highway provides more of a challenge and more of an…adventure.
I realized today that the local flea market is within walking distance down Hwy. 92, and that becomes my destination. I stuff my pockets with the essentials. My glasses, a bit of cash, driver’s license, tissue, and a tube of lip balm. Today I take my phone mostly so I can take photos.
It’s a pretty day. I couldn’t walk this in the summer. It’s too hot and too wet and the weeds would be thigh high. But this time of year it’s dry and sunny and the weeds that aren’t dried up have been mowed to a manageable level.
I approach a drainage ditch which I know from walking this stretch before is dry and passable. I head to cross it when I see the end of a gator slithering into the culvert. This gives me pause. All I saw was a black tail, black because of the mud near the culvert opening. I survey the ditch and decide not to take a chance of disturbing more gators.
I hustle along, cars and trucks whizzing by on the highway. I figure this is no more than a few-block walk if I lived in a city. Whatever happened to sidewalks? Or bike trails? I make assumptions about the people I see walking along the highway and wonder if others are making the same ones about me. Do they think I’m homeless? An addict who’s lost everything? That I got a DUI and can’t drive?
As I approach an intersection that comes off the toll road, I see a homeless (?) man panhandling. I wave to him and he waves back. I continue on, a blog post forming in my head. I photograph the pretty wildflowers and wonder if they are contributing to my allergies.
I wander around the flea market where you can purchase anything from lemons to tires. I watch cloggers onstage. I discover there is live entertainment on Saturday and Sunday. I peruse kitchenware, homemade soap, purses and sandals. There’s not one thing I want to buy, except maybe a lemonade shake-up, which will probably be mostly ice. I’ve taken some video which I hope I can figure out how to upload. I head for home deciding I will ask the panhandler if I can take his picture. I will give him some cash and ask his name. Ask if he minds if I post his photo on social media. Will he know what social media is?
But alas, to my great disappointment, he is not there. I look all around and wonder where he went. Did a cop roust him? Did someone offer him a ride? Did he accumulate enough cash and head…home?
I continue to wonder as I track back toward home. I invent scenarios in my head, including one about the alligator in the culvert. What if my character was on the run and she decided to cut through that culvert? And stepped on the gator’s tail? Would going forward be worse than whatever was behind her?
As I approach the culvert I see the gator. He looks drier than he did before. Or maybe this is one of his buddies. He eyes me from a distance while I snap his photo. I don’t offer him cash or ask him if I can post his likeness on social media. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know what it is.