Living at a Crossroads

Living at a Crossroads

The night still dark, the low, growling, dryer-in-the-basement rumble of a semi-truck warming or staying warm out on the street below, permeates through all of the windows within the seven-story apartment structure above, through the vaulted studio space, upward into the laddered loft where the vibration bounces from wall-to-wall in the tiny cube. It’s six o’clock in the dawn of morning. Across the throughway the squeaking hinges of refrigerated trucks sing and holler to the clanking beat of heavy metal latches. Empty palettes slap the concrete as workers unload the wares into the market and maneuver goods from outside to inside or into temporary outdoor storage tents. It’s nine AM. Cars honk; buses roar; commuters clatter. The smell of onions sweating and meat sizzling waft into the air and sneak through the poorly insulated seams where edges meet other edges. Scooters zoom; castors drum; doors slam. It’s noon, and everyone breaks for lunch. A cool calm settles as the sun sets behind the skyscraping heights of apartmentland. There are no more shadows here. Be it summer or winter, direct sunlight diffuses at two. Ordered chaos, mommies with babies and grandmas running errands fill the streets in a bustling endeavor to be home before dinner. The thickness of the day’s air lifts with the minds of those beginning to count down the clock. The old man of the old couple who run the best snack-food stand in the neighborhood rolls up the stand’s tiny, locked gate. The food stuffs still have about twenty minutes until consumable. It’s four-thirty. And then the street explodes into an uproar of small children and dining families. Buses beep to signal their reversals into lines along the street as more students arrive while others depart. Thrown into a heap, empty boxes of product line the buildings. Groups of boys, who have been cooped up too long, scream and fight in a hurried rush to expel some energy before their next class. Children yell for siblings and parents. Parents yell for children. Everyone shouts to be heard. It’s six o’clock in the evening. Another calm lowers onto the street below. Students return to study; diners enjoy a meal. Commuters calmly walk from their closest public-transport, drop-off point. The population prepares for the final mass exodus from every academic building in the vicinity. It’s eight-thirty. Tick-tock. Click-clock. Tick-tock. Click-clock. The first horn blows as the second expresses its disapproval. A symphony of honks and beeps and whistles and chimes erupts in the valley of urbanity. The gorge floods with the final group of students leaving the academies above. Scores of grade-school children vocalize their excitement as vehicles await to transport human cargo. It’s ten o’clock. By ten-thirty, the intersection mellows into the dull roar of a listless ocean until the voices of individual passersby can be easily heard in conversation.