When I first moved to Burlington I worked at Abraham’s Camera Shop. I worked the standard nine to five shift, selling cameras and film. They had a great selection, although the owner was creepy. Actually, he was really creepy. He had an assistant in the upstairs windowless office whose job in part was to watch the security cameras. The cameras were to make sure no one stole anything, but they were aimed not out at the floor, where customers lingered, but behind the counters where the staff worked. They were watching me. Creepy.
That was a short job for me, however–only a few months. I was out of there as fast as I could go. I got a job at Photogarden around the corner, processing film. That was way more enjoyable. In both cases I did not have far to go to get to work. I lived on Hyde Street, in the old north end, so I walked or rode my bike to work every day. Those were not career jobs, but the commute couldn’t be beat.
Since I worked on Church Street, which is open only to pedestrians most of the day, I loved walking down this street in the morning. The street was bustling. Shops were being unlocked and deliveries were being made. Before 9:00 trucks would park on the street and unload. It felt like the world was clear and real and waking again to a new day. It gave me a sense of perspective–I was just one of many people with interesting or boring, exciting or mundane, happy or depressing lives. I felt good about my own life. I had health and friends and a good attitude and years ahead of me to fulfill my dreams.
I watched the boxes roll from a truck and thought about the man pushing the trolley. Did he have children? Did that Remington hat mean he was a hunter? I thought about the woman accepting the boxes. Did she own that place? Did her business mean as much as a relationship? I looked at the cute waitress serving breakfast at the restaurant next door. I thought about the future sometimes and often just lived in the moment.
Yesterday I walked down Church Street early. I do not do it often anymore. I had just dropped off my daughter at a photography camp program on lower Church Street (how things loop around) and was walking with my son to have breakfast in town. The scene has not changed much. I still wondered about the people on either side of the deliveries, and the waitresses don’t seem so cute now (compared to my wife, who could?) but the trucks were still lined up and the boxes still rolled off the backs of them.
I had some of those same feelings of hope and wonder that I had all those years ago. I felt proud of my daughter for trying something new and I felt happy to spend some time with my son, who is turning out to be a pretty great person. We walked up the street, some of my dreams now fulfilled, some still to be met, and I felt glad to simply be there, to be alive and to welcome the day.