Last night I drove past a woman smoking, flicking ashes from her apartment window onto an empty Seattle street. They fell like a water gun sparking wintergreens, hitting this street everybody drives around but nobody walks through.

It reminds me of Fountain Square in downtown Indianapolis. It’s like always the early 80s there, and the fountain is never turned on. Everything is black and white, and the diner stays empty during the day.

If I look at it a certain way, quiet neighborhoods in the heart of big cities are comforting, especially when they’re in solitude. Which really could be more about silence than abandonment.

But if I look at in another way, my whole heart splits imaging everybody sleeping the heat of the day off inside brick houses around the square. And the best way I can cope with the weight of that is to imagine impossible ways for places to change. What if one day everybody just started talking, and the neighborhood became powerful, magical.

Pea patches send tender vines over fences, the diner starts passing out free coffee, and fountain water flip flops all over sidewalks every June and July.