Seven. That’s all I saw on my morning ride. It’s “Flag Day” and on a ten mile ride through the city passing hundreds of homes and apartments, I only saw seven American flags. Some have been there for a long tie faded and worn, while others look like they just arrived for the occasion.
After 9/11, there were flags everywhere. Every house was flying the stars and stripes out front. Every car had those magnetic flags on their hoods.
But as time passed, the metal lined the gutters and the old symbols of patriotism were taken down.
I never flew a flag. Instead my wife painted the front windows with red, white and blue. The sunshine would flood the living room with the nations pride and at night it glowed in remembrance. But eventually the windows were washed.
During the world cup, watching the flags and listening to each national anthem I notice the players embracing each other, some with their hands over their hearts as we were taught to do in elementary school and some singing.
This is just an observation as I ride the Sunday path through the city. Watching the passing walkers strapped to their gizmos, seeing a father pushing a double stroller with his head down talking to his children until I saw the cell phone, looking up the girl’s dress as she sat on he church steps, two young men walking up the dusty sidewalk in the fan, one in a red cap the other rubbing his stubble chin as if they were leaving an overnight party or just starting out a days adventure. The Robin Inn doesn’t have the daily special on the chalk board but I know it’s chicken on noodles covered in a tomato or cream sauce for eight dollars. It has been the same for years.
An oriental couple pull up next to me at a water stop and ask through the open window, “Sir, do you know where Monument Avenue is?” “Monument Avenue?” I reply, then pointing north say, “It’s one block over.” They turned left as the light turned green and we went out different directions. You can be so close and yet so lost.
So I return past the quiet church which used to open it’s doors on a hot summer day. I see five flags flying. I don’ think my neighborhood is more patriotic or more observant of the day. Perhaps they are too lazy to take the flags down. Perhaps it’s the fact that Mister Timberlake, the flag maker lives down the block. Maybe Ronnie called ahead and asked that the flags be removed because he had seen too many to wrap up in.
Maybe it’s time to paint the windows again, but this time with flowers.
So as I watch men run back and forth kicking a white ball and listening to NPR over the buzzing TV, thinking its time to shower before seeing Mandy off to China at the corner.
I will put up the pen. The first time I’ve put pen to paper and cursive written anything other than huge checks.
The rain is here, but I don't think I'll sleep out on the porch until 2 AM tonight.