On Sunday morning, 40,000 people will run, walk and wheel their way 26.2 miles through New York’s five boroughs in a whirlwind tour of the city at its most festive. My personal marathon, restricted to the long rectangle created by Baltic and Warren Streets and Fourth and Fifth Avenues in Park Slope, Brooklyn, offered something more subtle: a glimpse at a day in the life of my neighborhood.
The idea came to me on my umpteenth walk with Barnaby, a basset hound with a trace of beagle that we adopted from a shelter in June. Somehow, the thought “This is pathetic — I’m walking miles every day without getting anywhere” morphed into “What if we kept walking — without going anywhere? Wouldn’t that be kind of cool?”
Suddenly, the dutiful, oddly agrarian-feeling urban activity of escorting an animal outdoors for nature’s call took on the urgency of adventure. With the hound as social lubricant, I would immerse myself in the quotidian rhythms and stutter-steps of the block, watching its lives intersect or sometimes — it’s a neighborly block, but this is New York City, after all — float by one another without acknowledgment.