Tuesday, July 11, 2017

SOLTuesday: Street Scene

I’m walking down my block today, past the school. A little girl, 2 to 3 years old, has stopped, leaned over, and picked up a white feather from the sidewalk. I think, she shouldn’t be picking things off the sidewalk, and I look around for the pertinent adult. About 25 feet ahead, a tall man carrying a child’s backpack has turned around, looking back toward the girl. As I continue walking, I think about telling him that she’s picked up a feather from the street. But I say nothing.
            An instant later I hear him say, “Put that down.” I keep walking as I hear her voice the perennial child question: “Why?”
            If my block were a village, I would have known that child and her father. It would have been normal for me to say to her, “Don’t pick up feathers from the sidewalk,” or to her father, “Chloe [or whatever her name is] just picked up a feather.” We might have stopped and exchanged stories about what small children see on the street at their feet and find fascinating.
            But hundreds of people live on my block and around the corner, and many children attend the school I’m passing from other neighborhoods. I can’t know all of them. That’s the price I pay for living in a city where I don’t have to own a car, where there are dozens of movies playing every day, dozens more museums, walkable streets and parks. I have my own “village” of friends around the city, just not necessarily those I see on the street.
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