The music of a city from an attic window... (Written January, 2008)
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I rub my hand against the ice-glazed windowpane. The cold seeps through the glass to my fingers and I briefly withdraw my hand to blow on them for warmth. I am nestled in a cocoon of blankets upon my bed. To my thoughts, it's about ten on a Saturday morning. The small, single paned window is my outlet to the world on wintry mornings such as this. I poke the very tip of my nose outside my mountain of down comforters and wraps and gaze through the tiny hole I have managed to make, watching the song of the city.
Every town, city, building, or street has a song. The small section of the street I watch tells a million different stories that all harmonize together in a blissful peace. The rhythmic thud of people's feet as they pass by is like the bass drum in a written piece of music; the steady backbeat that is the building blocks for the rest. The men and woman who stroll leisurely by with a coffee mug in one hand and a little briefcase in the other give it a casual, lilting feel. Later, I know, the children will come out to play at the park directly across from my bedroom. They are the cheerful passionate melody that makes you want to sing along. The teenagers who stroll down the streets, whether alone or huddled in trios or crowds, the only sign of their headphones the small white or black wires that thread their way up to their ears, offer up a strong rebellious pounding.
There are unique groups of people here, so many different ones. But they all mesh together to form an open, determined, and proud song.
Lately, another soft taste has been added into this mixture: Sadness. At the corner of the street, at the bus stop, near the edge of the park, sits an old man. He's there every day now, for no apparent reason. When the bus comes, he politely declines and turns away. I saw him giving candy to a little girl once. She was crying because an older boy had run off with hers. He fished deep into his pocket and, with a smile upon his bearded face, dropped two peppermints wrapped in crinkling cellophane and a candy cane into her outstretched palm.
He always wears the same brown overcoat. The shoulder is patched with a faded, sickly, green colored material. His pants are the same shade of dusty brown and ragged around the ends as though he has stepped on them many times. He wears brown snow boots with yellow-green laces. A knit ski-cap that might once have been merry colors of bold red and green sits upon his head. His hair is as white as the snow that falls and his neatly trimmed beard is the same. His brown eyes, set deep within his face, twinkle at the casual passer-by. He's a kind man, I can tell. But very, very sad too. He never cries, but there is almost an aura around him of pure and utter sorrow.
I wonder if he's waiting for someone. Always he is there, from eight in the morning to six in the evening. Everyday, even Sundays. Sometimes he eats a plain bagel, but usually nothing. I offered him a roast beef and Swiss cheese sandwich once. He said, "You eat it. An old man like me can get along. Thank you."
I don't speak to him anymore, and he never says anything to me, just nods his head when I walk by.
I know he's waiting. I don't know for whom or if they'll ever come. But I hope they do. Everyday he waits. That means he hopes.
He just keeps on hoping.
Maybe someday that bittersweet feel he gives to this street will give way to joy and happiness. I don't know.
But, like him, I hope.