It is the day after the marathon, the city’s pagan holiday. The city is united and everyone is Greek. I don’t live here anymore, haven’t for years. It’s not the city I knew. Too many rich people, the moving breathing proof that money can’t buy taste. But I work here, so here I am the morning after, and the city is saintly in its endorphinic hangover.
I ride the train to Kenmore Square. A man is distributing flyers. People pass him on their way to work or school or love. I am in no rush. I slow down. It’s his job, after all, and it can’t be much fun for people to run past you all day. He sees me, but he does not offer me a flyer. Whatever he’s selling, it’s not for me. Very well, then. In the basement coffee shop I greet the ladies behind the counter. How many mornings have we met? No idea. The coffee is strong and hot and the music is funky. A long blond willow takes her time to fix her iced coffee. No rush, dearie, but please don’t flip your hair into my cup. She moves on and I have space to pour the cream and pick gold floss from my sleeve.
Back on terra firma. Three doors down, two young men come out of Dunkin’ Donuts. A bum asks for change. They have none, but they give him a donut. As they walk in quiet and friendly conversation, one of the young men, the one with dark curly hair, breaks a chocolate donut into pieces to eat it. A breeze transmits the cocoa scent. For a moment I think I want a chocolate donut, too. But I don’t. Donuts are not what they used to be. When I was a child, we went to Worcester on Saturday morning and the smell of fresh donuts, bright happiness of a treat soon to come, met us at the traffic light. Now the donuts are made in a commissary kitchen godknowswhere. Could look it up online, but don’t care to know. I don’t want the chocolate donut the boy is eating, for he is a boy to my eyes. I want to be the boy with the chocolate donut. The boy of light limbs, crystalline skin, carefree gait. No. This morning, this is his city and his donut and his sidewalk and his loving companion. I am the shade passing through.