Monday, June 27, 2016

Vignette -- Time Market

Two friends stand next the dish tub where they have just deposited their bused coffee cups. They are both lean and tall and look at each other with the ease born of years of friendship, familiarity, trust. It is summer so they both wear the casual clothes of the season: shorts, sandals, t-shirts. One wears his Boston baseball cap.

I see them at a distance. I stand near the entrance, the other end of the market/cafe/pizza and beer bistro. The old woods floors speak to the place's past, give it a Western feel.

I am injured, on crutches, in some pain. Things have taken on a poignant glow because I am so helpless that I need a ride to get to places like this, to share coffee with friends, to get anywhere other than home, bed, and convalescing.

These men are the supports of my life. They carry me in hard times. They don't know that I look at them, immersed in their casual, routine, ordinary conversation and see a crystalized moment of life as one might see it on a death bed. The sweetness of it almost sends me crashing to the floor as my knees weaken at the frailty, the ephemerality of this life.

I see it all, too much at times. The friends talk at a distance. A worker sprinkles the produce to keep it fresh. A barista looks out the window, past this small scene, to something very distant. She bites her lip, wants to be somewhere else, thinks no one sees her. She is young. She has dreams.

The friends continue to chat it up, to joke about something, to chuckle as they walk up the aisle, past the glass display case, the pizza oven, the cashier, toward me.

They take me in with their gaze and open the talk to include me.

"Well, time to go?" asks the one who will give me a lift home.

I scan the market, one side to the other, taking it in, seeing it for once, as if for the first or last time.

They open the door for me, and I crutch out. There is a new handicap ramp.

"They built this just for you," one of them says.

"I guess so, " I say. "I'll take it," I say. "I'll take it."

And I do. I hobble down the ramp, the latest proof that change is everywhere, that the street car will run long after I, and all I know, are gone.

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