How to read Roger’s Park

Dog and foot and book
You never know what anyone’s thinking anyway.

I’m never sure how to read Roger’s Park. Is this a hip corner or am I about to get mugged? A question which, after some attacks in Ravenswood Manor, I’m asking a lot lately.

Feeling overly cautious and foolish about it I walk a half-block to the train. In front of me is a cute black guy with pulled-up dreads. He walks into the station ahead of me and then immediately back out. Is he going to ask me to let him in with my card? Should I offer? But why am I assuming that’s why he came back out? Maybe he just forgot something. He ignores me and goes on his way. I go through the turnstile.

Up on the train platform another strikingly handsome black man stands under the heat lights. He smiles casually as I join him. He looks familiar, but I’m always wary when I think someone looks familiar, especially if they’re of a population I might offend. I have this fear the person will say, “Do we all look alike to you?” Populations I am afraid to offend in this way include black men, white men with beards, and white women with long, dark, straight hair. I also question myself when middle-aged white women with short hair look familiar, but I don’t worry about offending them. I’m one of them.

But also, I’m tired of being afraid to make a mistake. “I’m sure I know you,” I begin, and he says, “Yeah…,” and suddenly I remember. “We did that storytelling show!”

“Right, hi!” he says. “How are you?”

“Great!” I beam. “I just got a massage.”

“Nice!” We talk disjointedly as we get on the train and find seats. Both of us need to check our phones to see where we’re going and he does so straight off. I do so halfway because I kind of feel like I sort of know where I’m going. When he’s done mapping, he tells me about his event and I tell him about my event. “Cool,” he says. “Where was your massage?”

Centered Studios,” I say. “Mel was fantastic.”

“I live right by there!”

I really should be thinking about which stop I need to get off at but I ask, “Do you do yoga?”

“I do, but I need to do more of it,” he says.

At the risk of looking like I’m trying backhandedly sell him something I say, “Um, do you want a free yoga membership for Centered Studios?”

He looks at me a little blankly.

“I won it at a benefit auction thing,” I hastily add. “I used the massage part but I’m never going to make it back enough for the yoga.”


“Sure. Please.” I find the certificate and give it to him. I want to add that I’ve wanted to put an offer up on Facebook for someone who lives close enough to take the yoga classes, but I recently changed my Facebook policy to only go there on the first of every month and I don’t want the certificate to expire in the meantime.

“Can I send you some free theatre tickets?” he asks.

“That would be great!”

He puts his email address in my phone and I am suddenly dying to explain about Facebook. I think he would get it. He’s a poet and he seems fully engaged with life and up for new ideas. But will he think I’m an over-sharer who’s too worried about when to go on Facebook?

“Is this your stop?” he asks. We’re at Berwyn and the doors are open.

“Oh! Yeah!” I get out and run for the closing door.

“See ya!”

“See ya!”

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