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This City

July 25, 2010
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I’m faceless here.  I can try to walk into the coffee shop through the wrong door; and forget to cross the street because I’m too busy trying to fix my broken umbrella; and drop a tear or two huddled under the scaffolding during the downpour; and flash nearly half the city because I’m not used to dresses over subway vents; but I don’t have to explain it, choke it back, hold it down, laugh it off.  I can release and reset alone, standing in a crowd – an off day in an off time period.  This too shall pass.  And they let me pass, faceless.  I am grateful for anonymity that brings peace and order to my thoughts.

I know this city offers harsh realities.  It rubs abrasively.  The concrete can skin the hands and knees when you fall, and it is hard not to trip here at one time or another.  I know it is impossible to avoid that sting.  I know that sometimes this city leaves you wishing somebody would offer an open hand. But I’ve found that hand, too.  The warm smile holding a door; the chuckle when I’ve let the shutter close too many times on the same scene – “you should read your manual!” – he doesn’t realize that it’s not the camera that isn’t quite right, it’s that my eye isn’t quite right; the wave-on-through because “your bags look heavy!”; the gratitude when I bend down to pick up her son’s hat that he tossed aside from the stroller.  I’ve found that here, too.

I know there are things I still need to learn about this city.  Like how hot and damp the air is at 5am in late July.  That the heat and night sky cling to the early morning and lay themselves out down the streets.  That the streets are almost silent even though taxi cabs still rush by and delivery trucks unload from the sidewalks.  Coffee shops and breakfast places display dark windows or a soft yellow glow from somewhere deep inside, where a single employee puts on the first pot of coffee.  It is hard to find a bottle of water at 5am.  I’m listening for the sound of early morning birds.  It’s an instinct I can’t suppress, but I’m not expecting to hear a bird chirp.  Instead, I’m listening to the rush of a taxi cab engine and the clank of a delivery truck suspension.  The traffic doesn’t drone at 5am the way it does at 5pm.  At 5am each vehicle has its own solo.

I crave the faceless days and prepare for skinned knees.  I appreciate the kind hands and warm gestures, theirs and mine, that take on special meaning when cloaked with anonymity.  I’m walking these concrete sidewalks, next to the droning traffic and the 5am solos.  I’m where I want to be.

One Comment
  1. July 29, 2010 2:33 pm

    when in doubt, carry band-aids:)

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