At the top of each month, my roommate and I switch parking spaces. Our apartment only comes with one space in the building's private lot so during alternating months, I park out front, on the street. It's not a big deal -- the neighborhood is relatively safe and I almost never have trouble finding space... but I digress.
On some mornings, when I'm parked on the street, I often spot a man walking across the street. He's determined. He's in shorts, a t-shirt and tennis shoes, always carrying a grocery bag in his arms and always walking painfully slow -- and when I say painfully, I mean it to say he actually looks like he's in pain.
I always wonder where he's going with such determination, despite how much pain he appears to be in. I admire him in a way, I guess. And I feel almost disappointed because I will probably never know his story. In my mind, I've kind of conjured a few ideas. I believe he lives somewhere in the neighborhood across from my building. Perhaps in one of the older-but-nice apartment buildings that line the south side of my boulevard. And every morning, I imagine he wakes up and gets dressed. He kisses his wife of fifty years goodbye (she may still be asleep but smiles when he kisses her) and takes a grocery bag of snacks on the way out. I imagine he spends some time at a nearby park, maybe doing something old fashioned like feeding the pigeons. Perhaps he just sits there, eating whatever is in his bag, and thinks about life. I don't really know, of course. Like I said, I conjure.
When I lived in New York, my best friend and I would take snacks or a baseball to toss to the park. Eventually all roads ended with us sitting side by side, picking out strangers, and making up their life stories. When I moved back to Souther California, we tried to replicate the tradition by sending each other photos of strangers we'd find online but it kind of looses its pizzaz on a computer. We couldn't laugh together that way.
Maybe I find the old man more endearing because he stirs up that memory.