In February, Zed and I moved in together.

The worst part of moving was finding a place to live. We needed to be close to my work, his school, and in a place that would allow for a 60-pound beast who looks intimidating and has a ferocious bark. Plus, it needed to be cheap. We ended up in a tiny place in downtown, mostly because of the price point and loose pet policy.

The building proclaims itself to be built in 1911 in a faded painted sign that no one has removed from the rooftop since it was placed there. The tiled porch is chipped and the sandstone foundation crumbling as the gray paint peels off in strips, it says this building is called, “The Nelson.” No one has ever called it that. The crumbling, faded porch overlooks a busy street.

In this apartment, SLC feels distinctly urban. There are people everywhere, all the time.

Somewhere between churches, shops, bars, public institutions, and homes for the homeless, we can watch people of all types as they wander through the city. Many looking for friends or family, some for a few pennies to catch a bus, others looking for a good night out, and some just looking.

I’ve called the cops twice in six months. Both times because a man was passed out on my doorstep.

I’ve mastered the art of avoiding vagrants asking for change or hawking stolen wares.  I no longer take the dog on walks at night. (Mostly because the meandering bar crowd doesn’t remember to ask to pet a dog, and mine is not happy to meet strangers.)

They’re always on this street–the wandering people. Some need help, some ask for it, others don’t want it, and some are just that way.

Black globe, neon nations

I’ve met at least two who claimed to be dog trainers and proceeded to offer me advice about my dog. One an old cowboy, the other a young woman, both seemed desperately out of place, time, and money. I don’t do much to encourage these encounters, but as I’ve mentioned, something about Archer encourages conversation.

Our daily meanderings have us meeting strangers still, only now in this neighborhood, the strangers are strange, seemingly desperate, and often in need of help that I certainly can’t provide. I’m always ashamed to mention resources that I know of that are available. And I don’t know if I should. I’m never quite certain what to say except to talk about the dog in question. (It almost always starts with, “What kind of dog is it?” if they are too polite to bring up his bat ears.) As I try to continue our walk without making this person feel terrible for asking.

Maybe what they really need is to feel human by talking about a dog. Archer's bat ears

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