Yesterday I took a different route to the beach. I went down the alley west of Meridian Avenue. It was quiet and shady. The trash men hadn't come. There were two couches and a mattress.
I took a shot of the washing machine chained to the ground, roofless. For a dollar and a quarter tenants can do their wash outside.
There were two doors painted violet.
I appreciated the charm of a life with violet doors until I came to the cart, which served as someone's home. The person had stepped away, so I thought, and I took a picture. Among the stack of books was "Gray's Anatomy." These carts have their own vocabulary: there are always brooms and plastic bags. This one had four brooms and many plastic bags, as well as a tarp, rope, a painting, and a carved fish on a plaque. I went closer; my camera clicked, and I saw someone sitting on the ground in back of the cart. The person was bare-legged. I saw the twitch of a thigh muscle, put down my camera and hurried away.
When I came to the cross street I didn't know where I was. The horizon had tilted. The familiar street looked strange. Finally near the beach I stopped at the women's toilet and went into the stall. A voice filled the room--folksy, southern, confidential, a Sugar, Precious, let-me-tell-you-how-to-bake-biscuits voice. A woman's voice announcing the end of the world. I heard the words "fire" and "sun." Someone must have a radio, I thought, but when I stepped out of the stall, the voice stopped. There was someone in the large stall; there was a suitcase pushed against the door. I saw bare feet in flip-flops, veined ankles.
Everything seemed strange. The gulls huge as Thanksgiving turkeys for a crowd of thirty. Click of the camera, twitch of a muscle, Sybil of the Stall had brought on a change of perspective.
On the beach at Fifteenth Street I heard music like Nino Rota's. Three lithe men were juggling, criss-crossing in an elegant dance. There movements were like the carnival-like scenes that redeemed the world in Fellini's films.
Just west of them, on the hard pavement a man flung himself into the air in ragged pirouettes. He had tremendous velocity but not great lift. He whirled. "Is it exercise or is something wrong with his mind?" a passerby asked. The whirling man turned to me. "In honor of Jesus," he said.
I walked down fourteenth Street to Collins, then Washington Avenue, on to Pennsylvania, and Euclid and went home to our condo on Meridian.