Low Gear

I’m pedaling slowly up the hill in low gear. I spy my homeless friend, Robert, on the other side of the street up ahead of me. He’s pacing around outside his church. He moves toward the entrance and peeks through a window, then steps closer to the big doors. He grabs the handle of one door and gives it a tug. It doesn’t budge. He takes hold of the other door’s handle, pulls, and it remains closed. He reacts by not reacting – both doors are locked, as he knew they would be.. His movements show an absence of disappointment, of frustration, and of concern. The only emotional condition that shines through is tiredness. Other feelings are warehoused somewhere beneath his skin. Robert lowers his arms to his sides and turns mechanically, toward the street. Now he sees me. He stops and stands there in the alcove. I free a hand from my handlebars and give him something like an encouraging wave. He doesn’t wave back. He just watches, his gaze shows the same detached and unmoved reaction.

Now I’m under the microscope. My movements are amplified 10x. Until I’m safely out of Robert’s view, my forward movement feels slowed, and my pedaling seems disconnected from my progress.

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