I walk each morning to the subway since circumstances (weather, after-work obligations) have not allowed me to commute by bike (oh so sad.) Sometimes alone, sometimes with Tyler, I cross the footbridge, wait at the long light as cars zip by, pass the Quaker School, watch children spill from the yellow buses, take First Place, see the dog who engages in a strange ritual of rubbing his body along the stone wall while his owner patiently waits, reach the next intersection with its steady traffic of moving taxi cabs, creep under the low branched canopy of leaves, zig zig from one Place to the next Place and descend underground.
It is the same each day and the characters in the space do not change. There is the redhaired woman caught in a puff of cigarette smoke. The raspy-voiced man who shines shoes. The soft-spoken, never-pushy transgendered panhandler at the corner. The bespectacled twins with their robot backpacks, flanking their sibling’s stroller, as their petite mother pushes, traipses, along.
And at each intersection, there is a crossing guard. There is the frizzy-haired no-nonsense woman at the most dangerous corner, who we have determined has the hardest post, who is not happy when Tyler darts across the street, who says Hello only sometimes and even then is straight-faced, tight-lipped.
There is the quiet hat-wearing woman at the next corner who we have determined has the easiest post and so it matches her tame personality, the sweet rolling r’s of her Spanish language, her small stature.
There is the wild woman at the next T, who wears a giant puffy down coat that reaches her ankles, even in warm weather, who talks incessantly, sings Hello to every child, tells me she’s a ‘summer baby’ (thus the coat), who has yelled at me for the way I brazenly walk into traffic (though it is not quite that way, it is the cars who are not following the rules), and who is often so engaged in gossip and conversation that she fails to notice the traffic light has changed.
This morning, Tyler and I walked through all this. I mentioned that, once, my schedule had been so that I had taken the route in the afternoon, as school let out. I was surprised that the same crossing guards were there.
“What do you think they do in between? For those four hours or so?”
“They go to the coffee shop. They blog,” Tyler teased. (In Tyler’s world, everybody blogs.)
“Right,” I agreed. “About us. About how bad we are at crossing the street.”
We envisioned them at the wobbly stools, laptops at the counter, their blog header featuring each of them in their reflector vests, arms crossed in an X with the title: CROSS THIS.