I get comfortable in the coffee shop sitting at a table looking out the front window. I am at the intersection of Church and Grove Street. I see many sights. My vantage point has a black band across it, part of the windowpane. It makes these scenes look like pictures you see that try, often feebly, to disguise the photo subject’s identity by putting what looks like a strip of black tape across their eyes. Luckily for me, at any time, I can peak above and below this black strip to reveal the full identity, the full truth of the matter.
A man is setting up his hotdog cart, shiny and silver and on three wheels. It is hard to push up the curb, and he uses all of his weight to do it. He takes the deep ocean blue umbrella lying on top, and attaches it to the cart and opens it up. A little piece of beach is here in the city of New Haven. Interesting, the umbrella must be for effect, as his cart is completely in the shade.
Two girls in black tops and tight dark blue jeans wait to cross the street, laughing in unison. They do not wait for the glowing orange-red hand to change to a white walking stick figure and begin the countdown. They do move quickly, bumping their pace up to a slow run at about the halfway point, as a large truck approaches.
A young couple is holding hands. He holds just her fingertips in his hand, delicately, but firmly.
A woman walks past, empty handed, only to momentarily return, walking in the other direction, white styrofoam container in one hand and a bottle of water in the other: lunch.
A woman looks like a lion, her curly full blonde mane surrounding her face as a gust of wind overtakes her from behind.
A man with a perfect side part in his shiny jet-black hair has a hop to his step as he walks onto the sidewalk.
A tall older gentleman with a cream tweed jacket walks a short plump dog without a tail. The dog’s rear end shakes back and forth as he keeps up with his walking partner.
There is an older man with his walker and his wife walks next to him. She carries a royal blue metal cane with a black rubber stopper on the end.
The walking stick figure is counting down again. When the number gets to 15, it changes from a white walking stick figure to an orange-red hand, emphasizing the change in urgency to finish the job of getting across the street.
A risk taker has pulled in front of me, and parked right in front of the yellow fire hydrant, just below the red and white “No Standing Anytime” sign, with the arrow pointed right at his car. He does glance back at his car a few times as heads into the coffee shop, perhaps concerned about his risk. Then, I see the flashing lights on his car. I surmise he is looking back to ensure his car is locking. Here’s to hoping the meter maids are elsewhere in the city at this moment.
I hear a horn blow. It’s been a while, and this is the first horn I hear. Pretty peaceful considering the volume passing.
A man in a jeans jacket, rolled a few times at the wrists with a cookie monster on the back, rolls a purple and green plaid bag behind him. He tilts quite a bit to the left to reach the handle while keeping the wheels rolling on the ground.
A man presses the crosswalk button and waits, hands jammed deeply into his pockets as he waits. He looks up and down the street. His white hair curls around the bottom of his black baseball cap.
A woman with a child in a stroller waits on the curb. Her young girl curiously looks back and forth, taking it all in from her unique position and her perspective. The curb clears of people, as no one else in this jumble of folks waits for the light. But, mothers always wait; precious cargo.
A woman with a white coat on opens the blue Free Apartment Guide box and takes a guide. This free guide may change her path in life; where she lives, who she meets, what comes next.
A lefty trots across the crosswalk, from corner to corner rather than straight across. He has his folio nestled comfortably under his left arm, as he moves swiftly across.
Two friends begin the journey across, but back track, stepping back onto the curb. The woman pulls at her tall black shiny boot, and the man adjusts his blue tooth in his ear. They now wait for it to be official; the change of the orange-red hand to the white walking stick person begins the countdown, and for them begins their journey, with the blessing of the glowing white stick figure.
A man with a limp walks across the street as he eats a sandwich from within a crumple of white paper. He is a righty. When he reaches the other side, he stops and stands there as he fishes out more of his sandwich, and his face disappears into the white paper flower to get it, as people behind him maneuver around him.
An older gentleman plays it safe, and with 10 seconds left on the crosswalk, he chooses to press the button and wait. After a long wait, I see his frustration in his body language as his head tilts from side to side and he throws his arms up. He does three false starts to go across before the orange-red hand eventually relents, allowing him to cross. Now he moves with speed, his previous caution thrown to the side.
There is another jumble of people waiting. A woman wears a heavy black coat, a young woman wears a white t-shirt and pastel shorts, another man wears a bright yellow and orange nylon vest, protective headphones resting around his neck; he and his headphones taking a break. There is another lefty, a woman with a large black bag on her left shoulder, cell phone to her left ear. These folks stand so closely for strangers, waiting and waiting.
Another risk taker. I missed his arrival, but my attention is drawn to his red car as the meter maid is preparing his ticket. The paper curls up as it prints out from his small hand held computer. He smooth’s it on the windshield and lifts the wiper to secure it underneath.
A man scratches his dark thick beard as he gazes into the sky. He seems so far away as he floats across the street.
A woman in a bright pink nylon coat bends way over, crouching with her knees fully bent to read the day’s front-page news in the newspaper dispenser, refusing to give up her four quarters for any more information than the top half of the front page.
A man with black and gray straight hair pulled back into a ponytail flattens stray hairs as he moves across the street. He tightens and readjusts his belt as he arrives on the other side, as though the short walk has loosened it.
An older gentleman with a white wide brim straw hat and a black band around it hustles across the street with a large brief case in his hand. The backpack he also carries, looped in one arm across half of his back, sways with each jostled step.
A mother and daughter hold hands as they cross. She looks to be about 8 or 9. They continue to hold hands on the other side, still connected to each other like that until they slip out of my sight.
A girl with glasses and a bun walks across the street, away from me. Her backpack takes up squarely almost half of her body, hanging past her waist and covering the top part of her legs. This does not slow her down.
A woman in a flowered sweater and blonde hair is carrying a large manila inter-office envelope across the street. Isn’t there a cardinal rule about inter-office mail truly staying inter-office?
A gaggle of 5 folks are on top of me now, and all 5 have sunglasses on. They actually look like they are going to walk right into the window, and they turn at the last minute, and the sunglass army marches on in formation.
Two men in suits stand and talk for two changes of the crosswalk. One man slaps the other one the back as he walks away, and the man left behind looks at his watch. The other man yells to the watch looker, and returns to his side, and they talk for two more changes of the crosswalk.
Now, I gather my belongings spread across my table at the coffee shop, slip them into my bag, and go wait on the corner, at the crosswalk. I am now one of the folks I have been watching for the last hour.
My long brown hair blows over one shoulder as the wind moves past me. I readjust my bag from my shoulder where I find it pulling my hair, instead carrying it in my right hand. I hold both sides of my shawl closed in front of me with my left hand. I stand with my gaggle of folks at the edge of the curb, and I wait.