On Trumbull Street, an overly cute little girl
in a yellow dress is playing the grand
at the Hilton
while her mother tries desperately to stop her. I smile
every time she looks at me and she grins shyly and turns away. Naturally, I'm paging this text
up (yes, you're hearing this live) whenever the mom walks behind me. The girl is hilarous and
having a tremendous amount of fun on the keys. She has a sundress
-y hat. Her name sounds
, or Jay-Shuh-Ree-Nuh
but I can't quite make it
Her father yells at her when she tries to walk past the coffee table on the side where my legs
were blocking the way, which is a shame. Little kids are allowed to walk over me whenever they
feel like it. She laughs when he yells.
I am awfully tempted to play that piano. Maybe on my way out. She's taking pictures of her
Running red lights in Upper Albany
. If you didn't know much, you'd call it a ghetto
instead of calling it potential. Abandoned lots call to me. I can't pigeonhole this. Two quick
left turns and Orthodox
onion domes are rising over wide grassy boulevards
and God, it's good to be going sixty.
A man, thirty-ish, sits across from me at the Burger King
while I fill
out the Boston Globe
crossword. I tuck it into my bag and am standing up to leave when he
"Son, are you done with your cup?"
"Huh? Uh, sure." Does he work here or something?
"Thanks." He takes it from the table, walks over to the soda fountain, rinses out the
remains of my strawberry milkshake, and fills the cup to the brim with Coke. Silently, he
raises the overflowing soda in tribute to a man across the room and goes to sip it in the
It's Easter Sunday and the streets are empty.
I have walked eighteen blocks in a big square around central Hartford. Who the hell designed a
to be this heavy? Past the Coliseum, sweating, with aching shoulders.
I need to sit down. I am on the wrong side of the Civic Center, the wrong side of the city,
with a long walk back to the hotel. A car is parked at a green light, and a thick-bearded
homeless man is pushing a shopping cart full of aluminum cans a couple hundred feet away.
Hartford stops on that block, as though the urban architects had paused for a
coffee and never come back. The highway takes over the city and only parking lots and
wastelands lay beyond.
Back at the Hilton, the staff is watching television; outside, the city decays. Almost time to
I ride the elevator up to the highest non-executive floor, the eighteenth. It is really the
seventeenth (old building) and suddenly I am a hundred
eighty feet above the empty interstate looking at where the last vestiges of the city
dissolves into the forests of Northern Connecticut. Below me, an aging plaza, an abandoned
building pleading to become office space, and a desolate long-term parking lot. I can turn my
head to see the Connecticut River; I can't see people anywhere.