I’m walking downtown on my way to buy some clearance running shoes. And there’s nobody around me. There are a couple of homeless people on the other side of the street walking in the other direction wearing frame packs and carrying tents and sleeping bags on them, neither talking to one another, and they’re looking at the ground like convicts at fence detail. Seeing them walking by I’m reminded of the time I was 13 and skating to town with some friends, when we came upon a dead homeless man in the grass, and kept skating to the nearest grocery store to let them know. He’s probably dead, we said laughing, like he’d been a friend who’d tripped on the playground in front of a crush. Except, I didn’t have to tell anyone because the ambulance was already on its way, and when we skated by him again on the way home, I could see some of the city trucks pulling away, and the spot in the tall grass where his dead body appeared to lay peacefully looking up at the blue sky. The homeless couple looks at me then they immediately look away, like I am a sudden distraction they can’t afford to partake in. And to be honest, I’m probably projecting here, and really am just admitting that I don’t have the patience to be distracted by them. Being a self-disciplined, unilaterally focused type has its advantages until other people get involved, at which time it becomes too hard to hold onto. In short, we all probably annoy each other just by being here and sharing the same sightline. I remember those years I walked around town without a care in the world, and used to stop at the local café and lean against the wall there drinking cappuccino and smoking camels like I was a college student with a bone to pick who’d just read Kerouac and thought to himself it’s all good with every smoky exhalation drifting over some local’s donuts in silent protest of vanity, thinking myself totally immune from the magazine of contradiction. Then one day during a snowstorm while I was carrying groceries home a woman blocked the crosswalk with her car and rolled down the window and told me I should stop walking around like I own the place, and finally realize I was a loser. I’d never seen her before, and asked her name, and explained how sorry I was she felt the way she did, and that maybe she was just having a bad day. I asked if she wanted to get a coffee sometime and talk about it and she drove away, swearing at me. I never saw her again. It was so surreal to be singled out and ridiculed by a stranger like that, especially in the middle of a crosswalk during a blizzard, she could have been a one-eyed trial to overcome in a hero’s journey. And to be honest, now I just want to walk through the forest of everywhere breaking branches of fear and anxiety and self-loathing as I go, while carrying myself as modestly as I can, often while looking down in public as a way of practicing how to stay grounded and open and grateful I’m able to walk around town under the blue sky, and not be ridiculed the way that dead man I found in the grass that day was.