There is such a thing as a cozy sort of loneliness.
This morning I jog to the Farmer’s Market in Clark Park with a reusable grocery bag tucked under my arm. Clark Park is my favorite place to observe Philadelphians. Sometimes there are groups of old black men playing chess at the park tables. Always there are dog-walkers.
Today I notice a pair of young women walking together toward the market. Both have their hair pulled up loosely in buns. Both wear black and denim—one has black leggings, a denim shirt-dress, and a black sweater; the other sports black jeans and a black shirt with a denim vest. I wonder: are they new roommates who decided to dress the same today, or old friends who met at the park and laughed at their common appearance? Are they going to an event?
I peruse the stands, selecting a bunch of cilantro here and a spaghetti squash there. I tally prices in my head, measuring them against the $20 bill in my wallet. Soon my money is spent and my bag is brimming with salad-makings, so I retreat back up the winding park path toward home. I smile as a man passes with one hand full of orange and magenta flowers, the other hand holding the leash of a tiny dog. The dog pauses and looks longingly back at the market. The man says kindly, “We already went there today! It’s time to go home.”
On Baltimore Avenue I spot an acquaintance through the open door of a shop. It takes a certain measure of courage to smile and to call out, “Hello!”. We exchange a few awkward sentences, then she returns to helping customers, and I say, “I’ll be on my way!”
I turn onto a smaller street, and walk quietly home in the cool Fall air. The tall trees nod gently at me, as if to say, we see you.