I’ve taken the route between home and my office five days each week, times fifty-two weeks per year, times seven years , not counting weekends, or special events, or mad dashes home to see if I failed to turn off the burner under the coffee.  Yesterday I swooped around a familiar curve and slowed, staring.  I considered pulling to the curb, but decided that my intrusion would be unwelcome, so I continued north.

But the sight of a woman sitting at a bus stop on the little seat of her walker still haunts me. Her grey hair lay flat against her small head, brushed a hundred times.  A pressed collar hugged a frail neck, tightly buttoned beneath a cardigan.  I saw my mother.  My sister.  Myself.

A block further north, in the long stretch of parkway, two men sat on a bench.  They looked like missing pieces of an urban landscape, one with withered pale skin, one with smooth skin black as night.  I watched a hand lift, gesturing.  Twin smiles beamed from their worn faces.  I saw my father, my brother, my son.

By the bike stand on the Plaza, a pair of young girls darted in front of my car with tennis bags over their shoulders.  The fresh blush of summer youth shone from their bodies.  I shook my head.  I judged their age at nineteen or twenty.  I did not recognize the styles they wore.  Nothing about their demeanor resonated with me.  But one turned her head just as she reached the curb and dazzled me with a grin and the quick flick of a thankful hand.

The light turned; I started forward. A siren’s wail stopped my passage.  Four cars slammed through the intersection, lights blazing, wheels swerving.  My hand lifted in a long-remembered cross.  A mumbled prayer escaped my lips right before the fifth car barreled passed.  When my heart quit pounding, I followed the other cars through the intersection with only a small wince of fear pulsing through my veins.

My little car eased to the curb and I cut the silent motor, safe at work.  I sat, just for a few minutes, watching the morning coffee hunters light and circle the doors of the Broadway Cafe.  They came out clutching cups against their chest.  I shook my head, then slid from the driver’s seat, grabbing my bag, settling my feet firm against the asphalt.  Another day began.

It’s the third day of the forty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

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