The streets are empty. I am waiting for the green man anyway.
Silence is daunting and peaceful.
I was afraid of it. These moments at the empty, weather stricken intersection were moments that frightened me. They never failed to stir my body and make my heart race.
When the green man appeared I would walk but once I stepped on the line that divided the lanes I lingered. Whether it was rain or snow, it was always mesmerizing seeing it against the red light of the traffic signal. I felt ambition in these moments. Anything was possible.
What frightened me was when a car drove by and forced reality to hit. Fear and restrictions.
I took these moments for granted.
Cars speed by. They drive fast with engines roaring. There are honks. I never know whether their directed at me as I walk the sidewalk. The music in my ears is trying its best to drown out these chaotic, gas-powered noises.
My coffee lady greets me with a big smile. She is petite, but her presence is never forgotten. We say hello as we always do. I hesitantly ask her how she is doing in Thai. “Sabaidee mai….ka?” She gives me an answer and then continues talking in Thai about, what I assume is her life. I like to imagine she tells me very intimate details and enigmatic parts of herself because she assumes I cannot understand. She is correct, I don’t. She talks to me in Thai and I respond in English and so we have a relationship based on trust that we can’t understand. Many days I find myself reading at her coffee shop without tension. I have become accustomed to the mopeds and pick up trucks that pass making the world one that you cannot cloak without much effort. But today that balcony is all the effort necessary. It is dark stained wood. Two benches sit across from one another with a small table in between.
Sitting on the table is a vase of deep yellow flowers.
I sit there and read my book, while she reads hers waiting for more customers.
For that hour she is my only companion. It is peaceful. We are back at the intersection. Both of us. Snow falling. The quiet instant that creates a world of ambition. My mind races. I begin telling her about my moments of brilliance.
I finish my chapter. The flowers are frosted from the world I just left. I stand up, I turn around to tell the coffee lady thank you. I can only hope that she knows I am thanking her for so much more than my café yen. Her coffee shop provides me moments of clarity that are hard to find in the bustling, cement jungle that surrounds me.
I trek through the jungle back to my apartment. My music still working hard. Another regular in my life appears. The security guard waves me over. My assumption is that we will communicate similarly to my coffee lady interactions. However, his intent was not to get to know me. “You so sexy.” He said to me. I looked into his eyes hidden behind his aviator glasses. His face was aged from the sun and life. His lips had formed a discreet smirk. I giggled and walked away disappointed. His uniform made me assume I would receive respect.
The cars and honks grew louder. I turned my music up but it did not help. The eyes that stared without hesitation discouraged me.
I looked behind me. I could see my footprints on the lightly dusted pavement. I looked straight up into the dark sky. The white flakes floating down towards the earth seemed to make war and violence and discomfort and humiliation and inequality and prejudice and the flaws of humanity disappear.
Just for a second it wasn’t life. It was that moment.
I say “Sabaidee Mai ka?” to the coffee lady as I take the two wooden steps up to my bench. She gives me a smile that was even bigger than the day before.