I live for the summer, these Michigan summers that are like sugar in lemon juice, this cold godforsaken state I spend 7-8 months hating a year. It's when I go for my walks, my long 3-4 hour walks, like I'm Thoreau but instead of nature I have this concrete abyss to walk in, taking in the sublime sights of the suburbs.
I see the hipsters, youthful and the lithe in their form-fitting clothes (sleek jeans and vivid t-shirts that trace their curves rather than cover them, as a conservative adult's clothes would). Eyes fixed on a cigarette, they taunt mortality with each bitter puff of smoke like only a young person can. 20 seconds (or however long doctors figure a puff takes off your life) floats away from their perfectly seductive lips, time they don't need like you do because they still have all the time in the world and they aren't giving any of it up for you. They are the beautiful people.
I see a Buddhist monk, wearing a sacred robe and a Wal-Mart dust mask, holding a drill machine. He is drilling a hole in the cement of a front porch of a house painted Indian sunset orange, the same orange that falls majestically on the Taj Mahal (built for that lovely woman) when the sky is clear on a warm summer evening in Agra. The rest of the monks are holding hammers, steel hammer heads hammering nails like they were banging gongs to reverberate eternal nothings, adding a new room to their suburban house temple. I think it's the same monks I saw chuckling at the books in the sex section of Barnes and Nobles. Laughter is most sacred of all.
I see a psychic standing on the porch of a deep blue house, with a white sign that reads "OPEN" in bright red letters, waiting for something. I can't really remember what she looks like now, except that she was Indian and had red, pouting lips. Maybe she was wearing a sari. She asks me if I smoke. I tell her no (a lie, and I don't know why I'm trying to lie to a psychic, it's bad kharma, I'm sure). She asks if I have $3. I tell her no again (another lie, fuck, she's going to put a curse on me or make a voodoo doll with a strand of my hair). A week later, she's gone and the sign is gone too. Psychic Visions is out of business. Seems there's no money in the future business.
I see an old man not walking but shuffling down the street slowly in that inimitable world-weary Old World, European village immigrant way, hands clasped behind his back in a show of humbleness (not walking carelessly like we do). He looks like one of Van Gogh's suffering potato eaters (made holy by their forced sacrifice), with his drab clothes and brown hat. He moves way too relaxed for someone in this 100+ horsepower suburban world, the cars whizzing by us like they have somewhere dreadfully important to be. I smile at him and his face is blank. It's somewhere else, on a dusty road in the Old Country where life moved at a more human speed, not a car speed, or a television speed, or a cell phone speed.
He reminds me of the old Arab men in their khakis and polo shirts that sit at the mall for hours talking like I was in an outdoor marketplace in Gaza, like I had just walked out of an ancient brick corridor (and not a store) right into a page from Arabian Nights. I always wonder what they could be talking about, their voices rising and falling like the summer breezes blowing as I walk down the street, but they never speak English. It makes me realize, sadly, how underused English is these days. So many words left unspoken, left unwritten, as if they were an annoyance to be avoided. Poor E, how does he feel about 'txts'?
I'm tired of seeing. I close my eyes to the cars and houses and the passersby. Beneath the roar of the cars, like I'm wiping dust off of an antique, I can hear the birds chirping, the cicadas, the crickets clicking, a distant babbling brook. When I close my eyes, I can really feel the sun, that ball of violence that gives life to flowers and you and me. I can feel the warmth wrap its arms around me, the tingling sensation its touch produces. I don't know why, but I'm smiling.