Walking to the bus from a doctor's appointment, I turn left, on impulse, down a small side street. It's mid-morning on a weekday, and there are no cars on the street.
I pass a domed building with wide, curving steps to the front door. The steps and Doric columns are pinkish marble. A small plaque tells me it's the Armenian Community Center. Beside it is a small chapel with a quiet garden in front, Gregory the Illuminator, Armenian Church. A young man, bag over his shoulder, turns sharply and disappears into the chapel. I think about going in, sitting in a cool pew, the scent of incense. Are non-Armenians welcome? What is the protocol? Does one cross oneself?
I turn right on Euclid Avenue. Something glides silently into my peripheral vision, snags at my eye, and I turn to look. It's a man in full bicycle-racing gear: lycra shorts and numbered jersey, sleek helmet that gives a feeling of speed. He is lean and muscled. He's riding an antique velocipede, a boneshaker, the front wheel almost as tall as me, holding himself still and upright, he moves at a stately pace down the road.
Two men are washing windows on my side of the street, one at the top of a ladder, the other holding the bottom. The man holding the ladder watches the velocipede pass, he can look at nothing else, he and I pause, and watch. The bicyclist stops at a light, balances for a few precious seconds, creeping forward and back, but finally he has to jump down. The light turns green and he's neatly in the seat again, he's moved so swiftly that I missed the moment. The window washer and I watch him turn and disappear around the corner.
I breathe in and breathe out, a space opened up inside my head, and I walk through soft morning air toward the bus.