Streets - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
The street was glorious in its inception. The sidewalks were smooth grey stones, joined with such precision that the joins were almost invisible. The walls were concrete, but not like a villa in rural Spain; they were more akin to the construction of a modernist skyscraper, all sharp edges and corners. The buildings were nothing short of monoliths, the bastions of the city's pride, stamping its arrival on the map of financially significant places to trade with. Yet no-one had communicated this vision to the citizenry. The street that should have been such a joy to walk was littered with garbage and the detritus of dogs. Enjoying the street view would mean taking your eye off your shoes, and no-one was about to do that.
The streets that were once sleek new tarmac are now greyed by the bleaching of the sun. The road is a monochrome patchwork, each one lined with a shiny boarder of tar. Despite these fixes there are still cracks and the potholes grow larger with each passing year. The trees that were once fine saplings with soft spring foliage are now gnarled embittered trees growing tall but without strength, competing unnaturally against the towering apartment blocks they were planted too close to. Their bark is mossy from the perennial dampness and incessant rain, except a few weeks of reprieve in the summer months. The sidewalk for the most part is still smooth concrete, albeit scattered with litter and the debris of the moulting trees. Tram wires strung from sea-green posts dangle at a two-storey height, beyond the daily regard of the pedestrians who walk heads-down to their destinations. At intervals are the street-lamps, once painted in glossy green, now dappled with grey chips of undercoat.
The street looked like an unfinished painting. So much of the canvas was still perfectly white, as if waiting for the artists hand to return. The morning light struggled through the murky cloud, but even in its weakness it was enough to blind. The air was of course cold, but Maisy hadn't expected the same dampness that comes before rain. Moving from the overbearing heat of the kitchen to the verandah was like sipping on ice-water in the height of summer, until her lips went blue and she scurried back to the roasting winter vegetables and baking apple pie.
I should not be on Rockdale Street. I knew it was the wrong decision, but I came anyway. After all, he is my brother. He is messed up with alcohol and drugs and I don't expect that he will change. I know that he will have some story to get money from me - money that will go right into the hands of the scum that sell, probably in this dark street. Isn't it amazing how many street lights can be out on one street, and the city never replaces them? He's late as usual. No, here he comes, staggering out from the dark alley. Wait. It is not Joseph. It is Mike, his cell mate from the state prison. He falls on the wet concrete sidewalk, high as usual.
"Mike. Are you all right? Where's Joseph?"
He looks up. "Joe didn't think you'd come. Listen, could you share me forty? I owe it to that guy."
"What guy?" Then, I see the guy moving toward us - with a nine mm in his right hand.
The street winds over the hill like a carelessly discarded belt, grey and cracked with age. On each side the houses are separated by yards large enough to accommodate farm animals, but this is no rural district. The homes are many times larger than even the biggest of families might need, yet in each is mostly parents with one child. To each dwelling there are more sports cars than people and kitchens that cost more than our homes just a block over. But I can ride my bike down here, enjoying the wide avenues, the leafy green trees and the relative safety now that the security guards patrol. There is talk of the residents paying to have the road repaved, they don't want the same repair service as the rest of us, nor the same schools or health service. Our parents are the nurses, the technicians and the fast food servers and they would like us to stay in our ramshackle boxes and never enter their plush neighbourhoods.
The street has seen so many transitions. The redbrick terraced homes were build for the railway workers without even internal washrooms. Inside their walls had dwelt families far too large for two bedrooms up top. I'll bet the children mostly slept in the long narrow living rooms that blended right into the kitchen. But this is London and from the later half of the 1900's these solid houses close to transit and the city centre could never remain for the poor. They became “executive” with all the amenities the professionals demanded. No longer were the gardens for growing vegetables but instead became home to new horticultural creations in vivid magentas, yellows and burnt orange. In the soft late autumn light they are simply deserted. Inside the damp creeps ever upward, peeling away designer wallpapers. The wedding pictures contain the ubiquitous white dress and tuxedo, just different faces, no children of course.
Viewed in isolation the patio could be anywhere with its grey stone floor and cafe tables, each with a green sun umbrella. If it were before an Italian vista I could sit for hours, days even, and simply be content. But instead it lies less than two feet from one of the busiest roads in the city. Were I to buy a coffee I wouldn't be enjoying its aroma, but instead the chocking fumes of the traffic that goes by almost without break. This isn't even a quaint city street, compared to my home country it's more of a highway, two lanes in either direction. Under the unbroken cloud this late morning could be the pre-dawn and the street is all the more grey for it. The headache I woke with is thickening like day old stew. The cafe itself looks inviting, on the other side of those doors is warmth and soft jazz, but I have no time to pamper myself today. No money either. The coins that rattle in my pocket are all accounted for: bus fair, lunch and candy from the office vending machine at eleven.
A red letter box stood as if on sentry duty, guarding the narrow exit to the Edwardian London no-through-road. The street was barely wide enough for two cars to pass in opposite directions and when people parked with wheels up on the ribbon-like strip of pavement, it was an obstacle course for pedestrians and drivers alike. The brick built semi-detached houses were deep and narrow with long gardens stretching behind them, each one a personal green oasis in the tumult of London life just at the end of the street. As the lengthened shadows of the evening melted away into the twilight, the streetlamps with their bowed graceful necks lit the street, a smudgy pool of yellow light lapping around each one.
Once the street had been a wide avenue with neatly mown grass banks and well manicured young trees, alive with the laughter of the children who played hopscotch and jump rope on the road. But now the grassy banks were a mess of dishevelled grass, moss and leaf litter, the trees were matured and overgrown giving the street a wilder, almost woodland look. Beneath their boughs were cars parked nose to tail down both sides. Those children with their jump ropes now drove Fords and Hondas, and if there were new children to replace them on the street you couldn't tell. Perhaps they stayed inside with computer games and cartoons.
Certainly there was nothing to remind one of Germany in the neat, rectilinear streets and the featureless, repetitive buildings.
I have walked these streets my whole life, I know them just the same as if they were etched in my head with a sharp knife, scored in deep like some strange work of art. These are the streets I grew up on and for the most part I'm calm here, at home, on the down low with a steady heart beat. Not tonight though. Tonight my heart wants out of my chest. It wants to beat free of its cage. It pounds like it's going to crack a rib. My senses are on high alert. Every colour is brighter, every noise louder, every stranger a cause to make my heart beat more fiercely still. It's been like that since the bikers came to town, marking out their turf like a wolf pack. I don't even deal drugs but they mean to dominate everyone regardless. They've got Kenny dealing for them already, there goes his grades, there goes his life. So now the streets that were my salvation spike my adrenaline as good as a shot to the arm.
This coat is not heavy enough for that wind blast. To the cars that pass by, I must be invisible, for the drivers never seem to see me. During the day, when down town is busy, I walk around before eating at the mission. People hurry out of their cars into the buildings. They have clean clothes, and are only in the cold for the few seconds that it takes them to get to the doors of the buildings. At 5 or 6, most workers head for their homes outside the city. As I sit on the steps of the Tyler building, I think about them in their heated houses, eating pot roast with the family. I see mom or dad put the kids to bed with a story. I may check into rehab again, not that I'm using now, but just to be out of the cold. Wait! No, I'll find a spot behind the Parker Place tonight. I need to save rehab for the big snow forecast for Thursday. By the way, the cops found Jimmy dead last night on 4th street. Strange. It must be that Jimmy's body was not invisible.