1. Walk through the tall iron gate, to the edge of the cobblestone. Look up before you cross. Place phone in pocket. Make eye contact with the driver. Cross with dignity and grace. Like you’re Kate Middleton. Because she’s always got somewhere to be.
2. Slight left and up one, two, three concrete steps. Pass the fading yellow house with tall Elizabethan spires and don’t make eye contact with the guy with the pony tail and the yorkie.
3. Pass the gravel lot next to the manicured green lawn of one inch height, growing in the shadow of the red brick poster-child home for Southern Living. And wish it was your own. Even if Martha Stewart is trapped inside.
4. Duck under the yellow branches, strum your fingers through the maple leaves and pluck one. Rotate through your fingers like you’re Jack Sparrow and it’s a coin. Flicker the leaf to the beat of whatever melody is in your head.
5. Pass the Christian house and the screaming children at the playground. Pass the sinking house, cowering in the heavy shadow of its urban, boxy neighbor. In your head, strip the siding, paint the door red, add some hastas and think of ditching it all for a show on HouseHunters.
6. Pass the ivy crawling up the sagging black porch and the burnt loveseat in the ditch–an angry ex-lover? Or maybe just a lazy cigarette.
7. Down the hill. Descend carefully. Wobbling like a penguin and wondering how fun this hill would be to sled.
8. Pass his house and maybe you should knock on the front door in that not-so-secret rhythm you used to do. We’re not really friends any more. But somehow walking by makes it feel so.
9. But you keep on. Pass the Chinese lady’s garden and steal a red berry.
10. Turn swiftly at the corner. Walk until you see your black door and worry the door was left unlocked.
11. Ascend the stairs. Fumble for keys. Click. Shut. Release heavy sigh. Kick off shoes.