Wednesday, 20 June 2012

shine less

I see her walking by and I wonder if she's seeing me.

No, she's not made eye contact or done a half-wave or any of the other furtive motions we make when you spy someone you're not sure about. Just the quick, quick of her heels clicking on the pavement and  the whoosh of the stroller in front of her. The child inside looks bored.  He's clutching what looks like a dirty doughnut (or it's a....dog toy?) and a sippy cup.  I only see him quickly, though, long enough to register his long eyelashes curling down on his cheeks, and then they turn the corner and are gone.

I put down my cup and lean in to talk to the man across from me, knowing that she'll be back. She walks the town every day, and where we sit is on the loop.

The coffee shop is busy, and smells like raisins and danish. When the front door opens, a blast of scent eddies out into the street and you can see passersby blink and smile, snorting in the sudden goodness. The bells tinkle on the door and the waitresses pour good coffee and chat about the weather and the local goings-on. It's a great place to see your neighbors and figure out what the latest scuttlebutt is. Or just people watch.

My companion is droning on about health care (on a bright sunny day like today it's hard to take dire statistics and Department of Health pseudo-scandals seriously, so I'm only half-paying attention) and I watch as the woman with the bright blonde hair approaches again, this time on the other side of the street. She stops in front of the post office, adjusts the still-sleeping boy's shirt, and turns the other corner, her hair flicking out like a metronome.

I've never asked why she walks - if she's running from (or to) something, if she's escaping demons or merely has a colicky babe.We've spoken, and we know each other's names, but we're not close enough to do anything more than wave or grin if we catch sight of each other. She appears then is gone again down the alley. Does she think about me and wonder why I would choose to stay so tethered to a chair? Why we're not all out wandering and exploring town? And I wonder - whose way is better?

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