As I work to walk my ten to twelve thousand steps a day, together with watching what I eat the best tools I have to manage my diabetes better than I have in many years, I wander across the town where I live, Norwich, on weekends visiting various neighborhoods, logging lots more than the desired number of steps and seeing situations and strategies that don't ever make my local newspapers.
Yesterday morning wasn't an aimless wandering (which I do so well, if it's ever declared an Olympic sport you'll find me at the medals podium) but a hike to what could be our downtown-we call it Chelsea and cynics suggest if you blink, you'll miss it, so I always keep my eyes wide open.
Walking down Broadway near Saint Patrick's, I was in time to watch the faithful exiting the cathedral after (I'm assuming) morning Mass, around 7:30, and start on their weekends in one instance as a driver made a u-turn in front of St Pat's, cutting off another car who angrily honked while the first driver flipped him off. In front of the church. I marveled-waiting for The Lord to smite somebody and realizing that's our problem these days, not enough smiting.
The houses on Broadway as you walk from Chelsea Parade towards City Hall and Church street go from massive and sprawling end of the 1800's architecture that's been reinvented in many places as multiple family dwellings to, the longer you continue to walk, smaller houses filled with people scuffling to hang on to their piece of the American Dream as in many instance houses on either side of theirs sprout for sale signs and show signs of abandonment.
It was our Semisepticentennial this time last year and many of us partied like it was 1849 and that hangover, combined with the sound empty pockets make when the money runs out, is all coming together now and no one is very happy about it, especially since we can't find anyone to blame (which is what many of us, and not just here in The Rose of New England, do better than anything else).
Probably like what happened where you live-our city council wound up putting together a budget that made bare bones look like the lap of luxury, much to the consternation of folks from just about everywhere, and the only saving grace in the exercise was the realization that next year's budget will probably be worse, in terms of paying for current programs and services much less adding new ones.
I was heading to a two hour workshop on Economic Development Bond Issues that I'll write more, lots more, about in the days and weeks to come. But no matter what's envisioned for this piece of New England's past, still looking for its niche in 21st Century America, it's already too late for the Taste of Istanbul restaurant as well as the flower shop and Wauregan Deli (they had reuben sandwiches to die for!) all three alongside of each other and all closed, the latter two in the Wauregan Hotel, an eighteen million dollar state funded renewal project that came with the obligatory assurance that 'Norwich is on the move.' Yeah, it sure is.
Even on Saturdays, the moving vans and pick-up trucks with cardboard boxes and the beater cars crammed with families who failed are rolling beyond the city limits, past the distressed houses, the abandoned textile mills sitting on contaminated property and the empty store fronts facing the litter-lined streets of a downtown with no one out and about on a Saturday morning except one dweeb, listening to James McMurtry on his headphones hoping like hell the song is wrong but fearing that's a bad bet these days.