He had a unique gait, shuffling and yet spritely, carried by heavy boots. Worker's boots, worn bald on the toe and unlaced. Sparse shoots of unkempt hair that may have been auburn at one point wave wildly, made alive by the bursts of autumn wind. Draped in camouflage like a soldier, he contrasted sharply and almost comically against the bland waves of grey and brick and metal of the city scenery. Veering. Drunk? Perhaps not but definitely aimless. Checking trashcans periodically, poking anthills and probing under rocks looking for One Man's Trash.
A few minutes pass and the trashcans and retracing of steps seem to lose appeal as he digs in his pockets and pulls out a candy bar. A car patiently awaits its turn to wander the streets as he stands in the road fumbling with the wrapper. Success, the candy finds his mouth and the wrapper finds the street as a trashcan watches, disgruntled, from three feet away.
A woman stands next to the trashcan smoking, disinterestedly watching the man. She looks at the wrapper with disdain but does nothing, save furrowing an already furrowed brow. The smoke curves the lines of her face, cupping her brow before dissipating into the increasingly chilled air. Her demeanor is an imprint; the folds of her visage remember every hard day and lonely night she's had in this city. She stares intently at a space in the air, and I wonder what memory she's inhaling and exhaling into smoke and ash.
I wonder if she pities the man, his low stature and desperation. I wonder if she sneers at the lack of shame and social etiquette.
I wonder if the man pities the woman, her lack of freedom and her dependence. Pity for her misery despite having the world in her possession.
Does his street feel like an exile?
Does her condo feel like a prison?
We all three wonder if there can ever be freedom until our feet feel the clouds.