We humans

My plan had been to get to downtown before sunrise and watch the town wake up. It’s now about 18 minutes (7:49) after sunrise and there are a lot of cars here on Water Street and of course going up and down Sidney Baker, but no other pedestrians that I can see.

I’ve had more McDonald’s since I moved here then I had in the previous five years in New York City.

7:52 AM – a man in his late 20s or early 30s just rode a bike past me on the sidewalk. That was the first human life outside of vehicles I’ve seen so far. Correction: I did see a woman walk across the street about 100 yards to the south, but it was far enough away that I don’t know whether it was a human or a white-tailed deer.

7:53 AM – The truth is, I love McDonald’s sausage and egg biscuit. I don’t care who knows this.

7:56 AM – a Texas Tree Service pickup truck rolls by. On a flatbed trailer is a Caterpiller backhoe. When I get a breakfast taco at Mary’s, many of the customers there are men doing work in manual labor. A big change for me is that I don’t see a lot of African-Americans here, but I see many more Mexicans obviously than I saw in New York. If I’d spent more time in East Harlem, however, I’d see many from Oaxaca.

7:57 AM – my first close encounter with a human. He walks by, a man in his 30s, looking at his phone. I look up from my phone, hoping to meet him halfway between screens and say good morning. He continues walking or, rather, shuffling along. He is wearing the houndstooth pants of a chef. I wonder if he’s just getting off work or just going to work. There are not any restaurants to my right, so he must be going to work at PoPo’s at the corner.

8 AM – the belltower over City Hall is loud. I can hear it clearly from my apartment, and I had always assumed it was a church. There are Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Assembly of God, and Catholic churches all within a 5-minute walk of my apartment. But no, it’s City Hall, and now it is chiming eight. It’s nice—to think that the town center is announcing the time.

8:04 AM – I go to inspect the bricks that have been inscribed with what I assume are donors to something, maybe to the downtown revitalization project. I see names of local wealthy families that even I recognize alongside of people of course I’ve never heard of and people who have passed away, with their lifespan indicated by a dash. One lived from 1910 to 1951. Another brick is dedicated by the “Good & Great / Class of 1958.” I’m guessing this is Tivy High School. (The better cadence was already taken by their neighbors graduating fifty years prior.)

8:08 AM – I’ve been here nigh twenty minutes and have seen four humans. Two on bikes and two pedestrians. But again, one of the walkers could’ve been a gazelle.

A white pick-up rolls by – and I should probably heretofore not qualify vehicles as pick-ups; just assume they are, and I’ll qualify them as sedans or other vehicle types if so – and on the roof rack there are two kayaks, one orange and another gecko green. There is great water access a little over a mile away, at Flat Rock Park. (The map says the body of water is called Kerrville Lake, but locals don’t call it that.) Kayaking, canoeing, paddle-boarding, and even swimming in the warm months, which for most around here starts when the water gets in the upper 70s. The air temperature now is 69°, and feels perfect. It’s been in the 80s lately, which makes for an uncomfortable car ride for me given that my decades-old air-conditioning is more like an asthmatic octogenarian breathing heavily toward me at twenty paces.

8:13 AM – I was looking for a trashcan to throw away my McDonald’s wrappers, and I was heartened to see one about 50 feet to my right. I always associate the number of trash cans with the density of pedestrianism.

8:21 AM – I had to use restroom, and I knew there was indeed a public restroom here on water Street. It even has its own building number, 715. The restroom was open, clean, and had toilet paper. What more could a body ask for?

“Traffic” cigarettes? Opposite the side with the Surgeon General’s warning is a notice that this is “A product of US Farmers.” On my father’s side, there are scores of relatives involved in the tobacco industry, or at least they were, living in the eastern part North Carolina and in Virginia. Last spring when going through some personal issues, I had considered starting to smoke again. Last time I smoked was in 8th grade. Not exactly sure how I thought smoking would help with any of my personal issues except for maybe help increase them.

8:25 AM – The lights around the parking lot along water Street are still on, except for a random few. Obviously they’re geared toward the amount of sunlight, and I am impressed that they have minds of their own. Some of them are optimistic about the morning and others are protective of pedestrians.

But like I said, there have been only four, and one of them might’ve been an armadillo.

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