I’ve been a slave to propinquity for too long. I drove to work on auto-pilot, my eyes practically unseeing, a CD blaring, singing off-key to the sounds of my college days.
My morning drives inundate me with sensation now: long swathes of verdant parkways; clusters of children at bus stops watched by a sleepy parent; the swift passage of runners and the slower movement of dog-walkers. My car glides passed all of them, and I find myself distracted, wondering about their stories.
This morning, a light which usually holds steady on green unexpectedly switched to red. The control only serves pedestrians. I looked to the left; no one. But to the right, I saw a compact figure step from the curb, leading with a small canvas bag dangling from a narrow shoulder. His clothes disappeared against the dingy grey of the street’s aging asphalt. He gazed steadily forward, his head tipped slightly downward following the bend of his back.
He wore his grey hair long and tightly braided, in close-combed rows, the ends of which rested just below his collar. He seemed ageless, raceless, almost genderless, shrugging gently in his drab shirt, moving forward in labored motions. He cleared the intersection, his bag still swaying. He stopped, briefly, on the sidewalk; then disappeared into a door in a wall of a building which I am not sure I’ve ever noticed. A putty-colored door in a beige building. I blinked and asked myself if I had even seen someone; if perhaps, I had been dreaming.
A horn honked then, and I continued on my way, still unsure, still wondering. I drove the rest of the way to work with my eyes wide open, though I could not say what I hoped to see.