This weekend was meant to be the beginning of my nomadic year. On Wednesday I learned my foot was fractured, tying me to earth. I'd had fantasies of walks up and down the long hill where I'm staying this week, but I'm forbidden to walk more than a few blocks at a time.
I've had to slow down. As I walk to dinner in my old neighborhood, I see a man in a doorway with his back to the street. My instinct is to turn my head away as I pass. There are many things a person can do in a doorway, especially in this part of town, few of them are things I much want to see anymore. But this guy was playing a bamboo flute. Not in that broken, half-assed way I expect of my neighbors. He's good. He's facing the wall and the sound bounces out onto the street, sweetening the slow walk, my foot rocking heel to toe in its stormtrooper boot.
At the bus stop, a man asks a cabbie at the curb if he knows how to get to Sparc. It's a marijuana dispensary, he says. Oh, says the cabbie, that's all the way down near 11th. A middle-aged Latino man in a suit is walking by, and he stops to say there's another very nice dispensary just in the next block.
A guy with a bullhorn is talking in Spanish about Jesús Cristo. A queen with a pink blossom tucked behind one ear smiles. She's well over six feet tall, closing in on seven.
I sit in a seat reserved for the elderly and disabled on the train. A woman sits beside me, long white hair in a turquoise clip. Gray pleated skirt and rose-colored coat, black felt boots. She turns a single-trip ticket around and around in her creased hands. We get to my stop, and she uses her hands to pull herself to her feet. I make the identical gesture, the two of us moving slowly out of the train. She's ahead of me as we go through the turnstiles, but she turns back from the stairs. I follow to see the escalator is out of service.
Looking for the escalator? she asks, as I turn toward the other exit. Yes, I say, and we keep each other company out of the station.
Tonight I'm re-reading Housekeeping. In it is a woman who chooses, for her own eccentric and half-understood reasons, to wander homeless. A strange piece of inspiration for my wobbling liftoff, weighed down, obliged to look around in every minute, slowed, but not stopped.