A Street Divides Us

A beautiful fall day, unusually warm with a gentle breeze, I gazed out the twelfth-floor window of my office, studying the river’s ferocious current from the past week of storms, finally gathering enough motivation for a walk.

Taking the elevator down, I stepped out onto Elm Street. Cars rushed past as I strolled the sidewalk, my subconscious usually guiding me south, but today felt different—I headed north instead. As I admired the colonial architecture and the swirling leaves, I barely paid attention to the crosswalk signals.

The farther north I walked, the friendlier people became. Greetings morphed from mere nods to quick pleasantries about the gorgeous day.

Turning a corner after several blocks, I headed east, intending to circle back to work. As I journeyed, the friendly exchanges continued.

a street divides us - way past tipsy - ran kime

“Hello”,  

“Hi”,  

“Hey”,  

“Pleasant day, isn’t it?”.  

Hmmm, I thought, most days that I walk, I walk south roughly the same amount of blocks and no one ever says hello, makes eye contact or even throws out a “nice day, isn’t it?” 

Puzzled, I pondered the difference in social dynamics based on direction and the different parts of the city. Did a mere street divide us? Continuing my experiment, I retraced my usual steps southward, encountering fewer greetings and diminishing smiles with each block. Approaching two older women, I offered a quick nod and smile, my usual gesture. However, they passed by without notice, occupying the entire sidewalk, forcing me to step aside to let them pass.

The contrast became glaringly apparent—when walking north; the streets exuded vibrancy. But walking south, the houses and buildings were sad and unkept, even the trees seemed weak, colorless and uninspiring. Reaching my workplace, I contemplated the deflated feeling I had compared to my vibrant mood walking north.

My hypothesis appeared confirmed, but to ensure and satisfy my curiosity, I retraced the same path northward again. True to form, the hellos and smiles were abundant and unsolicited. The houses boasted vibrant colors and trees danced gracefully in the wind. Rejuvenated by the positive atmosphere, I returned to work, engaging in lively banter with a coworker in the lobby.

Alone again in the elevator, I reflected. Would I have engaged in conversation had I walked south instead of north? Did the upbeat vibe from my northern stroll influence my interactions? I realized—our environment and our choices profoundly impact our mood.

We are sometimes dull, dragging and uninteresting, but the day you do something new and make it an experience is the day you learn that you have control over your environment and you have a choice which in return has control over your mood. 

Good vibes are to the north of the street that divides us.

Way Past Tipsy - ran kime

Read “A Street Divides Us” and other stories by Ran Kime in the collection Way Past Tipsy & Other Silent Cries for Help

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Ran Kime Writer
Ran Kime, a writer, poet, musician and recluse from New Hampshire, crafts abstract stories, flash fiction & poetry that probe the psyche. His collections include “Spectre of the Brocken: Halo for the observer” and “Way Past Tipsy & Other Silent Cries for Help”.