Thursday, November 19, 2009

How did I never notice that building before?

Rain forced me into a recovery day today, so instead of rolling out of bed and into my toeclips, I lingered under the covers after my alarm cried out and opted for a walk around the neighborhood instead of my typical morning ride. Slick streets made car tires sound sticky as their drivers rolled on towards their days. My shoes didn't make a sound.

I'd turned right out of my driveway this morning, walking along West 10th and up Fairfield, under the bridge on Abbey Road and along the ramp to West 14th in a little loop by Sokolowski's University Inn. I rarely walk anywhere but the neighborhoods behind my own building, in the quieter sections of Tremont- the ones peppered with fancy street-corner restaurants and trendy bars. This morning, though, I nosed along the center of town, passing Lincoln Park and Grace Hospital- and a jewel of an abandoned building right near the now-closed ramp up to 90.

Drab only in color, this victorian-looking mansion has the worn words "art gallery" in stone on the awning above the main porch. Its size is that of three typical Tremont cottages- how is it that it always escaped my eye? Padlocked doors and tightly boarded windows teased me when I walked the perimeter. I want so much to know more.

If I manage to find an entrance, I'll spend a late afternoon urban-spelunking. Now I'm curious, but I don't know who to ask- was this a museum? Was it one of the ubiquitous Eastern-European social houses nestled in the south side? Why was it left to dust, and why hasn't anyone picked it back up?

My morning walk led me along the park and down a one-way by the Lava Lounge bar, passing houses bedecked in chipped-paint coats, cats with paradoxical fur standing out in black and white on dusky windowsills. I nodded a good-morning to a school crossing guard and remembered a summer dog-walk by that playground- I'd been a guest in my future neighborhood then.

A lighter in my pocket wouldn't buy me coffee, so in the absence of change I headed home for breakfast, still wondering about the doors and windows sealed up on West 14th. I'll find out the truth, when I find someone to ask, or I'll find out some fairytales. Either way, I've discovered, in something old, something new.

No comments: