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Semiformalishmaybe

Faith of the Streets

Walking across Pittsburgh at 3:30AM..

Image: Street I'm on, which I've traversed many times over the six years I've been in town - cross from one end to the other, disappear, and reappear at the first, some years later. Repeat many times, seeing houses decay, fall, replaced, individuals age, working couples eventually retired, cared for in fragile age by their children. Larger patterns of houses, families, neighbourhoods emerge.

Memory: Sitting in a backyard at one of the parties I went to back then, making a bonfire, staring at the sky, the punctuated conversations as some part in us was pleased at watching the fire, the heat dynamic of distance from it a continued element of humanity, now uncommon and mostly restrained to fireplaces in ski lodges. This time almost felt like family, or at least less lonely. Now those people are largely gone.

Slow drizzle of rain fills the walk, weight of the laptop bag oddly heavy because it is late and I am more tired than normal at this hour. Pass: a house

Memory: In that house, sitting a few times with someone, having discussions, meals, helping them with a few things. The moments always felt longest while they prayed.. "Baruch Atah Adonai...", my eyes scanned the room and I sometimes read random books and pamphlets. The moments felt shortest in the conversations - there were times we met up by chance, started a conversation by chance, and its continuation shaped the rest of the evening. Now he is gone.

More steps, I see a pseudomexican restaurant moving in next door to another pseudomexican restaurant, then I pass the house where I've been to events organised by the local anarchists, then a ways further on I see motion and hear a noise - a drunk looking cyclist wobbles into a car, knocks the mirror off, moves to the sidewalk, and then drives on. I call the police on 911 to let them know, they say I can't file a report because I don't own the car and did not damage it, and to leave a note for the owner, which I can't do because of the rain - I jot down the location and the license tag and intend to call non-emergency police tomorrow to see if anything better can be arranged. I finally pass the large temple near campus, which is the designated emergency go-to location should disaster strike CMU. It reminds me of a conversation much earlier today on Judaism that eventually strayed into one of my fully-mapped almost-"canned" discussions. It wasn't bad as such things go, but it was rather predictable. What things are really new in life though? It's rare that we find areas where we can't at least lay out sets of reasonable contingencies that cover most of the possibility space - conversations, discoveries, work, the shape of people's minds, etc. That's unfortunate..

Right by campus, I passed by a few groups of undergrads returning from parties - different scents of people (not the obnoxious heavy bodily odours, but the perfumes, mild things, etc). They remind me of what it was like to be excited by the night, the lack of supervision and the freedom, perhaps a mild touch of rebellion. Now the night is a set of largely mapped moments of solitude that fill an evening, weeks and months of emptiness - no longer really exciting. It's funny how small scent can make me remember excitement about life though. Situational memory, perhaps.

Last mile being boring, I close an eye and pretend, with the rain collecting heavily on the other half of the glasses, that I am underwater to amuse my tired mind, wondering what a few people I know are doing.

There's more to write, but that should wait for when I'm more awake.

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