Between me and the homeless guy the table remained open the whole time I sat at the Starbucks. I wrote and watched him from the corner of my eye stirring his coffee. Three regulars at the same spot in the window with chairs in between them talking, taking up the whole section. And all the way down Hamilton boulevard the birch trees all colored in bone, past the blinking lights and cranes silhouetted in the morning sky. Our last day in Allentown, still on west coast time. Dad and I drove the kids down to the rock shop near Boyertown and dad bought me a chunk of pyrite crystal he said I could put on my desk at work. And for Charlotte, the Iceland spar he said the Vikings used for navigating their boats on cloudy days, how you could tilt it at the right angle and read right through it. I ordered eggs with scrapple and it was gray-colored and fried on top. We met at the oyster restaurant later, a party of nine, and Dawn and I went for drinks early and shrimp cocktail. We lowered the shade so the sun wasn’t right in our face. And on our way walking over from Sue and John’s house we saw an old woman on her knees weeding in the yard and Dawn stopped to tell her I used to know the kids who lived in that house, and it turned out they still did, four generations now. I invited one of them to connect with me on LinkedIn while we sat in the restaurant, and told Dawn a story about the time I broke my glasses trying to find our dog who’d gone missing — and he lent me a pair of frames for a job interview, but I didn’t get it.
I sat in the same spot at the Starbucks, then walked with Dawn around the block past my old apartment, that’s now a new building. I watched the people come and go expecting to see someone I remembered, but didn’t. It’s not the same as it used to be and that’s good, it’s better.
On the last day we visited my home town we’d always take the kids to a playground and dad would come meet us, and then we’d stop at my grandmother’s, eat sandwiches on paper plates, then hurry off to the airport. Dad and I would sit on a bench with mixed feelings watching them play, knowing it would be a year or more until we saw each other again.
Now the statues stand posing around the monument in center city looking air-brushed with the patina of old age, green turquoise, holding their rifles and looking down 7th street, looking in at me, at Starbucks. They start checking the meters at 8, and today it’s supposed to hit 80. It’s already 63, and it’s just past 7.