Saturday, September 21, 2013


I emerge into a bright morning of late summer.  The sun has fully risen as I walk to my usual café to get my latte before work.  As I stand waiting at the crosswalk for the light to change, a young couple is behind me.  I can tell from their conversation that they are CAL students, about to begin the Fall semester.  Their talk is lively, energetic; all about their classes and the teachers they'll have for them. The boundless,  happy energy of youth.  All of a sudden there is silence. When I turn around to look at them, they are locked in an embrace. He kisses her, the light changes, and they walk past me, holding hands and happily talking.  They are both about 19, maybe 20, years old.   For them, at this moment, everything is a bright sun in a cloudless sky. 

I get my latte and walk on.  When I reach the intersection where the MacDonald's is located, a couple blocks from my office, I see a young man, probably in his early 20’s, sitting on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.   He is alone.  The muscles underneath his soiled skin are taught and hard; his eyes focus on nothing.  His clothes are stained by his past. With a sullen expression, his forearm tensing like a tightened cable, he lights a cigarette as if he's sharpening a knife.

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