In the neighborhood

There is something about warm summer nights that seems to trigger the nostalgia centers of the brain. They’re more nostalgia-inducing than, say, a cold night in January. At least, that’s how it was last week, when on a lazy night where I had nothing going on, I decided to get out the bike and cruise the streets of my old neighborhood in Sparks.

It was almost sunset when I hopped on the electric bike (the geezer’s delight!) and began my ride. The plan was to tear around in the ole ’hood, the so-called Alphabet Ghetto in Sparks, for about 45 minutes to an hour, thereby earning, calorically speaking, the beer and quesadilla that awaited at the Great Basin Brewery. The Alphabet Ghetto? Those streets of inner Sparks, C through M, in between Pyramid and Probasco. Featuring lots of 50-year old houses, many of them less than 1,000 square feet, in various states of care and disrepair. I thought the homes here might provide some kind of snapshot as to the current economic realities of Northern Nevada. That is, I wondered if it’s gone downhill, somehow, making it a showcase for our new hard times.

I began my cruise on M street, roaming from Pyramid to Stanford, up and down, M to L to K and so forth, until I hit C. Looking at the houses, at the people, looking for signs. Signs of something. Predictably enough, they’re not there. Lots of folks outside, watering in the cool of the dusk. Most yards look pretty good. Some look really good. Some yards are nothing more than dirt patches, with “for sale” signs stuck in the dirt. Victims of the busted bubble, no doubt, and it’s no surprise to see them here. But there aren’t an inordinate amount of casualties, it seems. For the most part, things haven’t changed a whole lot since I lived here 15 years ago.

Everything is quiet. Everything seems kinda sleepy. If there are great dramas and nightmares here, they’re hidden. Just as they’ve always been. It gets darker, and with the darkness, more and more blue light emanates from the living rooms out into the streets. As usual. I whiz silently past, looking for glimpses of whatever. For the most part, there’s not much to see. No yelling, no fighting, no raging. Just some occasional barking. Just another peaceful summer night in Sparks. I’m probably the weirdest thing happening here tonight, the gliding spy on the futuristic bicycle.

This is the kind of night that’s death for a newspaper. All of this calm nothingness, this not-much-goin’-on. But, on occasion, it’s proper to acknowledge … this is reality. Most of the time. It’s OK that it’s boring. It’s just fine that it’s calm. Another drama-free night in the sleepy old Alphabet Ghetto. Just like I remember. So be it. Chirp on, crickets. Slam away, screen doors.