Still feeling a little tender-tummied and uncertain, I walk, a little slower than usual, down the predawn street, past all the buttoned-up little houses. I say to myself, it's different, now: when I was young I prowled the suburbs imagining I was shut out from everything interesting. Now -- I say to myself -- I know that they're all shut up in their little boxes because they're timid and not very interesting. But actually I don't really know. Am I inside or am I out? My confidence can evaporate between one step and the next.
The slow, diffuse light makes its way up from the ground to the gray sky. The Mediterranean cedars have left their soft, bright yellow powder-puff cones on the sidewalk: the blotches of pollen glow eerily in the half-light of morning, out of the shadows cast by the trees. The sidewalk slabs tilt this way and that, lifted by the cedar roots. I wonder what it's like to live under the shadow of these trees. They have a reputation for dropping their massive limbs without warning, unprovoked; and they are very dark.
Stories rise and fall: old stories, new stories, jumbled together, canted this way and that, lifted by unseen arms. None of the edges quite meet. I suppose my job is simply to wait and to witness.
Your pale smooth skin in the half dark -- that unearthly gleam of Northern European flesh! -- she is green in her hidden places -- this afternoon my supple old hands will be resting on the pommels of your shoulders, like lids resting on eyes, and we'll be breathing in tandem. Friendship grows imperceptibly, but it tips up the slabs, sooner or later, heaving even my old carapace up into the air. All those edges, exposed to the slow light of day.
Listen: it's good, and it's enough, more than enough. More than I ever imagined, when I was a teenager, walking the dawn streets. longing and doubting. These finger branches reach out to a wider sky than I ever knew existed.