WALKS OF LIFE
Sunday morning around 8 am, listening to Gene Harris, looking at the patio door, condensation coats the outside, droplets race down from the top in jagged silver streaks. Left over coffee fills the air layered with cinnamon, drizzled honey traverses one toasted gold round waffle on a cool white square plate.
Meantime, Hurricane Harvey batters the shores of Texas, mumbling newscasters in the background as the devastating images play unwatched. I reach inside to find the channel from which calm and crazy pours out. Words and stories, bits and pieces jumble in my mind, to form hooks for my imagination to snag on.
A little dark-eyed blonde girl kisses her palm and sits pensive, as a giant pink bow pinned to the side of her head forces it to tilt. She stares into the distance thinking about her future, anxious with internal conflicts.
Should she be a gymnast or a doctor? Should she feel guilty about loving her parents differently? She can’t decide how she feels about her new-born brother taking all the attention that she once owned exclusively.
The seductive scent of sweet stretching webs of cotton candy fills her nose as she forgets everything she’s thought about and leaves in search of the pink confection.
Beethoven comes on next. Love is defined by having the same style cell phones, and reading texts simultaneously while standing close, like strangers not talking.
Elsewhere, an older woman who chose to not care for others watches with disdain as a family sitting next to her resolves a conflict between sisters. One sister wants to stay, one sister wants to go, the father checks sports scores on his phone and the mom hugs her crying daughter wondering how she got to this place.
The sky grew dark and the wind began to howl. A loud crack of thunder and rain poured down to patter on tin overhangs. People of every shape, size, and color race to shelter while others remain calm and keep walking. People pushing strollers run along side those pushing wheelchairs.
Crowds appear spontaneously covered with wet ponchos. Fashion demand shifts to Saran Wrap stylings in colors with hoods, from obese gangs of fathers in big bellied shirts, and sagging senoritas jiggling in culottes and cutoffs.
The streets become shimmering mirrors of dark shadows dancing with light splash reflections of overcast skies. When one squints, the humans disappear and only wispy white ghosts can be seen running in wet Converse.
Elsewhere, at another time, in another place, others also walk, but for them, it’s in the sunshine. Some ride in a different direction than the crowd. Some wear shoes while others remain in pajama pants and socks. Some walk alone while others are lucky enough to have someone else to help and watch out for.
As Ray Brown takes the A train, the Empire State Building rises in the distance to compete as the sharpest point scraping the sky against puny pointy posts and puffy parallel poles.
Down on the ground, among the masses, each individual stands out in their own unique way. And in so doing, makes them all the same as each other. One runs, one walks, one shoots, and even the signs resemble the unilateral crowd as it shouts, “one way”.
It’s 3:00 P.M. on a Saturday afternoon and a nap simply must be had. Ingenuity takes over, a couple of milk cartons and a baseball cap later, a hyperbaric chamber is formed enabling the sleep deprived, to alcoholically or narcotically drift off, magically guarded against any sensory input.
On another street, a fellow napper feels the snooze coming on and lays down his crutches to grab slumber by a stoop. Perhaps it’s the wearing of the baseball cap that makes them sleepy… or perhaps the sidewalk is a lot more comfortable than we all realize.
Elsewhere and in other places, sun bathing nymphs attracting unwanted attention are sprawled out practically naked in a public park.
One practices her feminine wiles with a round of ancient slow sensuous back arching. Another flexes her intellect with foreign literature. The third attempts the “no seduction at all” performance, by allowing the simplicity of a bouncing blonde pony tail against a black bikini back, to do all the talking.
Together, everyone is alone doing their own thing; it’s what makes them/us all alike. While some just bring a dog or a book to the park, others bring their piano and gift the bench sitters with tickled ivories and Metropolitan melodies.
As the music plays, the famous pigeon man of Washington Square Park continues caring for his flying feathered friends.