I take the fastest route, the path of resistance back to the hotel. I could have kept up the meandering—the neighborhood jogging that kept me out of the fray for most of the day—but now I’m hot and tired and eager to be back. My insides buzz with lunch of wine and popcorn.
I’m but six blocks from the office, but I’m worlds away from Market on a Monday. On Sunday, on a warm day, the streets are L-I-V-E; the streets are raucous.
I carry my iPhone and brazenly wear headphones. “Don’t talk to me!” they scream. The trick is to act like there really is Kendrick Lamar blaring in your ears instead of radio silence.
Four young women are ahead of me. Girls by age, women by practice. Tight jeans, tighter shorts, skin exposed to the day. They take no mind to the catcalling and disarray around them. The sights, sounds, smells, are commonplace and insignificant. High school must feel commonplace and insignificant when these are your streets.
I have flashes of my stepson and his white life. His safe life.
I realize there’s been nary a needle on my journey when I come upon five or six clustered on the sidewalk. I can’t pick them up. I can’t discard them. And so there they lay. I guess I’m glad there’s more than one.
Here come the boys! Are they 25? 27? All be less than 30. Three in a pack, walking briskly in uniform—their near-matching plaid shirts each buttoned up one button too many. Their tan shorts just an inch, maybe two too short. Their heads on a constant swivel. Left. Right. Left. Right. Scanning for something. I imagine their eyes losing focus. I imagine them getting dizzy behind their sunglasses. Left. Right. Left.
It’s barely 5.30, yet here at the “park” the tents are out, the residents are dozing. Tent-upon-tent. Person-upon-person. It’s quiet. It’s hot. Here the day has already come and gone.