A mixture of smells wafts through the air. You first recognize the scent of a Wendy’s burger, then a Big Mamma’s burrito and maybe the smell of fresh baked bread from Jimmy John’s.
It’s night, but you’re surrounded by sound. A group of fraternity brothers pass by across the street speaking at levels that would surely awaken someone from their slumber. The door to a nearby bar opens and from it erupts the sound of music and the chattering of the last few patrons before the bartender makes a call for last drinks.
This is a typical night on Court Street in Athens, Ohio.
Most city residents and Ohio University students enjoy Court Street for its undying, vibrant nightlife. With about a dozen bars and several restaurants lining the span of only a few blocks, a quiet moment may be hard to come by — hard, but not impossible.
Imagine this: it’s Tuesday and the weather’s cold but not unbearable. You exit Alden Library after a long night of homework and turn onto Court Street. The clock on your cell phone reads 1:30 a.m., and as you begin your way down the brick-lined street you notice something.
It’s dead quiet.
Not only that, but not a single car is on the road, allowing you to gaze straight down and just catch the top of the old National Guard Armory where Court Street ends. You decide to walk down the middle of the road, because hey, why not? It’s not like you would have the chance to do this during the day.
As you approach the intersection you notice a green, then yellow, then red light cast down on the bricks from a traffic light above. The street is empty, the sidewalks are empty and it’s peacefully, blissfully quiet.
It may not be typical and it probably leans toward antisocial behavior, but to me, Court Street is best when no one’s around.
It’s at this rare moment that I get to take in the city I’ve grown to love, and for once I can experience it wholly on my own. When I walk down Court Street at dawn I feel more connected to the bricks beneath my feet.
I feel like Athens belongs to me.