Tonight the cat is curled in shadow on the kitchen floor, and the crickets are chirping over the catcalls of the noisy drunks across the street. I'm a little drunk myself, but more quiet about it, having polished off a bottle of my neighbour's hommade Portuegese wine while he and I chatted over the back fence. Without his shirt, I could see the long scar, with a cross at the top, bisecting my neighbour's chest, from the open heart surgery that saved his life when he was twelve. I played guitar a little for him, and he told me stories of crooked Catholic priests.
Then my housemate and I went for a walk through the placid north end of Steeltown, and I was appreciating anew the giant trees that have survived, here and there, in the neighbourhood. A few days ago, I heard an Irish botanist on the radio talk about the medicinal aerosol emissions of various indiginous trees, and made a mental note to plant Black Walnut someday, in my future yard, to ease asthma. Then my housemate pointed out that her autistic two-and-a-half year old son was a true North Ender, having been born here. She said that even if we moved out tomorrow, the neighbourhood would be imprinted on his young brain as the best thing in the world--his metaphorical template for heaven--from all of the walks I have taken him on through these tree studded streets.
This thought made me happy. Even though when I arrived here, in the middle of winter a few years ago, the area looked like a hostile alien planet to me, the simple charm of the place has grown on me since. Look for my neighbourhood in the recently released blockbuster movie Four Brothers. The house and street on which they shot much of this film is just blocks away. I never got to see Markie Mark, but I met a cute security guard who gave me all the info about the habits of the stars.