by joshua heineman ( about cb )
Blog Art (looks)
Blog Words (reads)
c u r s i v e
b u i l d i n g s
f o r e v e r
[ archives ]
The next morning, sunlight brought me out of bed, into the streets before noon. I stopped at the corner store for cigarettes and a newspaper, which were placed in a plastic bag and pushed across the dirty counter without a word. I thanked the clerk, a Chinese man with bleary eyes set on a small television near the register. He didn’t say a thing or nod or look from the screen. A few moments later he turned up the volume and I left.
The streets were full of music. Not songs - though they were part of it - but sirens and screams, laughter, the revving of engines, the slamming of doors and footsteps on the concrete. Everything you’d imagine. I passed an old man with his cane rhythmically clacking out the beat of his weary steps. He wore a nice hat. I smiled and he didn’t smile back.
On the next block, three dark-haired children ran out in front of their parents, screaming in delight. The girls, they looked like sisters, stopped several times to gaze back in bewilderment at the sturdy faces of mother and father, who plodded along steadily behind them looking tired. They noticed a puppy dragging its snout through the crosswalk as a young couple pulled from a short leash. The kids jumped and hollered in place until the dog’s head left the scents of the asphalt, ears up, to face the commotion with tail wagging. I think they had a moment, these kids and that dog. It was just a moment, though, as the leash tightened and pulled again. “Girls!” mother said. “Stay close. Mind your own business.”
Cars filled three lanes of the one-way as I walked against traffic. They weren’t moving. Congestion or an accident further along the road had reduced it to a parking lot. The more-agitated drivers slammed at their horns, the sound of which populated the city sort of like coughs in a movie theater. Mostly the drivers wore looks of defeat, with heads in hands and cigarettes out the window. I watched a teenager pluck a smoke right from the fingers of a jaded driver, who fumbled with his seatbelt and got halfway out the door before dismissing the theft with a wave. He got another cigarette from his shirt pocket, picked up a phone from the passenger seat and added several honks to the chorus. I only heard him say “Yeah Charlie? You wouldn’t believe what some bastard kid just…” as I turned the corner.
Here, the hill dropped the street at an insane angle into the financial towers and empty canyons of the weekend business district. Four- and five-story apartment blocks opened onto an epic sky and skyline, lifting my heart. I felt like an angel descended from the neighborhoods while a flock of pigeons curled from over my head into a loading dock, as if on cue. There was a halo of blue water behind the city and fog surrounded the entire view, blocking out any thoughts of the wider world. This was my home.