It’s approaching midnight, almost quiet near Haight Street tonight. From time to time, I hear people’s footsteps beyond my bay windows that face the front street. I imagine a younger man, energetic and adventurous to roam the neighborhood in the dark. I wonder if he is just now coming home, whether he was on a date or with his pals, and where they might have eaten dinner before saying their evening’s goodbyes.
No sirens tonight. No ambulance, police, or fire truck sirens, of which I could never distinguish. For these sounds, my curiosities lived differently. Urgent sirens send echoes off buildings and into all corners of our city to alert emergency response. Unlike footsteps, I don’t try to imagine anything with sirens. I stay away. I send my good graces, and try my best to fall asleep with gratefulness and the warmth of blankets.
I fall asleep thinking of a stranger who walks home excited to call his date tomorrow afternoon.
Ximending, Taipei, Taiwan – June 2017
Heading downtown, I’m sitting on the N-Judah line of the San Francisco MUNI. Here, I observe my fellow neighbors. An old white man in a baseball cap with a fluffy, caramel-colored dog. An old Asian woman sitting right next to me, with her thumb moving swiftly on her Samsung and playing Candy Crush. Another Asian woman, much younger though, holding her chubby infant, who wears a beanie and looks directly at me.
The caramel-colored dog is gentle as he approaches the beanie baby, and the young Asian mother and older gentleman smile on. The older man walks off the train; the young mother clutches her baby closer and reads a flyer about baby food — likely due for a check-up at the doctors. The old Asian woman, well, I think she’s on her third round of the same phone game.
Between the three people, I resemble most to the Candy Crush woman beside me. We both have fast fingers, and we pretend covertly not to notice the occurrences around us. But, we do. It’s a habit we picked up by virtue of living in the city. Phone ready, fast fingers, in case of anything. The city life prepares you for it.
My stop arrives, and as I stand, for a half-second, I see her eyes slide to me. No longer than it took me to take a step away, those little fingers are back firing away crushing candy.