Feeling good, I exhaled the sticky blue ether and stepped into the alley. The grooves gouged by the garbage trucks are filled with still black water. My earbuds drown out everything except the deepest resonance of my breath. Up the street I walk. The first snatch of eye contact I knew I was going to do it today.
Up 1st I walk, deliberately searching each persons face. Well, their eyes more specifically. Eye contact, nothing, nothing, nothing.
Eye contact, the most intimate and power of human connection. Dozens and dozens of men and women pass looking at mud puddles and brick and the gray sky and of course, cell phones. Then chestnut brown or yellow-blue eyes meet mine, see I am looking and the connection is made. Then broken. Sometimes I look away first. When I do I ask myself what made me look away. The answer is always the same (fear). Fear, the momentary exorcism of startled eyes, seeing mine, fly away.
Most everyone wants to be ignored, and be allowed to ignore. The top of my head feels like it is wrapped in a fire that doesn’t burn. I won’t ignore them. I will see every single one.
There is a particular psychic pleasure, taking more than people want to give, being the one who is willing to connect, filling up…On Pike st.
Where are you?
I don’t know whether you are a woman or man. I don’t care what you look like, what you are wearing. I don’t care if you are rooting through a trash can or stepping out of a dept. store, I don’t care.
Where are you?
At the cross walk no one was giving me anything. I pull my intention in tighter then I see him.
Looking straight into my eyes, unflinching, uncompromising, knowing, all that, from twenty feet away his eyes shine 9 shades of brown.
Even as I walk across the street I don’t realize it. That’s him…or her.
Laying on the ground, face less than a foot from the curb and the rainwater, his eyes follow me as I pass.
I walk several paces and stop. I lean against a display window for a store that I may never be able to afford to shop in.
This is crazy, I think, not just me and the brown eyes laying on the sidewalk, not just that. This is crazy; this window display, the people on the sidewalks the city the way we are and everything, you know, sometimes you wake up in the morning and you have forgotten who you are and for a second, anything seems possible, you could be anyone.
It feels like that.
“What’s his name?”
“Is he feeling ok, he looks tired…or sick?”
“He’s fine, he’s just resting. I don’t know why he is facing that way, he usually like to look this way.”
Ash meets my eyes again, all 9 shades of his brown swirl in distilled cloudshine. He is a big dog. A German Shepherd. His owner is a mousey, sweet looking girl with eroded teeth and stained fingertips. Her eyes, beautiful, full, gray blue meet mine in little sips.
She holds a cardboard sign. Someone gives her a dollar. She looks sweet and it is hard not to want to scoop her up and promise her you will fix everything and wash her fingers.
“Where are you two from?”
“I’m from Boston, he’s from Oregon. We met here. Some kids were taking care of him, but they couldn’t anymore. He’s been abused, ya know? So he can snap a little bit, he’s not mean, he just you know…laying out here all day people step so close to him. I can always tell when he going to do it though. He’s not a mean dog though.”
“I can tell. He’s a good boy…I, I just wanted to say hi.”