Thursday, September 24, 2009

Starting a new blog today

Transitional Species.
The Search for my 2,892ND life.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In Front of the Synagogue Steps - 23rd Street

He, or she, was dead. You could tell and you couldn't tell. You could tell that there had been a fall of some kind, but you couldn't tell if the fallen one was a man or a woman. Sometimes, people sleeping on the sidewalk look dead at first glance, then you see an eye flicker or some other sign, a sound, a twitch of a foot and you know they are just sleeping. Can you say that someone sleeping on the street is just sleeping? They always seem to me to be doing something more because of the depth of the exhaustion it must take to lie down with all the people streaming by, the traffic noise and the chances you've have to be taking by shutting your eyes.

This person was not sleeping. You could tell that whoever this body, this person, this fallen one, used to be was gone, was dead, by the way the torso and the arms twisted around each other. The left arm had gotten trapped behind the back and had been pushed up so high it looked to be in the position that some other arm possessor would be yelling "Uncle'', while the left leg was arched in a hookslide configuration for sliding into home plate. The right arm was flung up over the face while the back of the head was covered by some kind of scarf or silk cap. The rest of the frame was covered by a long coat and khakis. There were really big, oversized, hiking boots on the feet. They looked pretty new and I wondered to myself if, not being used to them, he, or she, no telling yet, had tripped over them and fallen too too hard.

I wondered how many times you have to fall before you fall one too many times.

A woman on her cellphone was standing near the synagogue doorway talking earnestly to somebody and getting placed on hold. Her male companion with absolutely nothing to do kept trying to make eye contact with her to no avail.

We heard a siren and the woman looked down 23rd Street towards the East and said something first to her companion and then into the phone. The troops of pedestrians kept up their march towards home, talking to each other or, if alone, trudging resolutely onward while lugging their various bags of groceries, dry cleaning or books. The man made his way to the curb and looked down the street.

I looked at the person's left hand, it was worn and worn out. The siren got louder. An ambulance appeared a couple of hundred feet down the street coming our way but in the lane across the street. The three of us looked at it as it roared by and made a left on the avenue. The man and the woman looked at each other as she spoke again into the cellphone.

I was late. I needed to go. I needed to get in amongst all the others hauling their stuff to wherever they were going. I took two steps. The woman was nodding at the man and making a sign, waving her arm, and talking. He was looking at her as if she were someone he had never met. We heard another siren.

I walked to the curb and then out onto the street. I could see the ambulance way down the street. Again from the East. I took another step into traffic and raised my arm in the classic taxi-hailing form all New Yorkers know. It occurred to me that, if I was standing on one foot, both I and the fallen one would be holding the same yoga pose. Watching out for any traffic, especially any cabs which I did not want to think I was hailing them, I waved at the westward lanes until I caught the eye of the ambulance driver. He pulled over and left the lights and blinkers on.

It didn't take long. There were two medics. They had the stretcher next to the body in about a minute. They checked for the nonexistent vitals, murmured something to the woman, nodded to the man, nodded to each other and lifted the body, the person, off the sidewalk and onto the stretcher. Some people slowed but did not stop. Three or four quick steps and everything was loaded up, the ambulance doors shut tight and off they went. Lights on but no siren.

I headed home. We are all just a fall apart, I said to myself. It didn't occur to me until I sat down to write this that I never did see if the person lying twisted up near the synagogue steps was a man or a woman. I guess it doesn't matter now, does it? Not to me or you, but don't you hope, I do, that it matters to someone?

Isn't that odd? I'm hoping for someone to be in grief, that's a really odd thing to wish on anyone, but I'm wishing, I'm hoping, that there will be someone to say some small farewell to this fallen one before he or she gets taken out into the depths of the Queens cemeteries and is gone out of all existence.

I'll say something now just in case there's no one else:

Goodbye, we didn't get to know you.
Rest now, rest in peace forever.

Fare well wherever the Universe takes you.
All of us are right behind you.