Wednesday, December 08, 2004

I know that somewhere, we are all reflections of the dead man in the street.

I was walking down 4th in Belltown last night, on my way to hang out with the photographers, when I came across an intersection crammed full of flashing lights. I had been walking slowly, crouched against the wind, thinking about phone calls made and not made, received and not received, and not paying a bit of attention to the city around me. I've been up and down the last few days, tired and sometimes a little sad. (I guess it's time that I admitted to you, Internet, that I'm a single girl again, having recently selfishly broken up with a perfectly nice boy.) Just as I noticed the flashing lights and looked up, I stepped past a parking attendant talking to an onlooker. He was saying, " jumped the curb and hit him. Ran into that cement wall. He's still under there."
I stopped walking, and with a faint "Oh, no!" that I didn't even realize I was uttering until it came out, looked across the street. Sure enough, there was a cab on the sidewalk with a crumpled front end and, I could see through the deepening shadows, a man-shaped figure laying underneath. He didn't seem to be moving, and no one appeared to be in a hurry to help him up. There was a crowd milling around, shuffling their feet, flexing their fingers against the cold, and storing up the details to bring home to their families. I did not want to be one of those people, didn't want to know what angle his arms had landed at and what shape the puddle of blood must have been making, and so I started walking again.
Before I had even finished crossing the street, I was annoyed with those people and how they were probably going to walk away from the scene feeling better about themselves because it wasn't them under that cab. How terrible, I felt, how darkly unpleasant.
But a few steps down the block my hat blew off, and in grabbing at it I realized that, right there, I had become one of those people, feeling better about myself because I'd decided that I wouldn't be just like them. I felt that there wasn't any way to stop being those people, because that's how people are.
I'm sorry, everyone, for so often being that sort of folk. I try not to gawk at your tragedies, but now and then my jaw falls open without my noticing it.

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