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Porch Sitting 101

old porch

One of my very favorite things to do in Mobile, Alabama is to sit on a porch in good weather and watch the world go by.

I wonder where the woman, shouting obscenities at the car in front of her, is in such a hurry to go. Seriously, everyone, including that car in front of her, drives recklessly fast down this busy street. There’s always so much traffic that if she does manage to get around him, one finger wave proclaiming “fare thee well fucker”, that there will only be another car to pass. And another. And another.

I wonder if she realizes she’s in just one of the tens of thousand cars in front of the person behind her, also screaming obscenities.

I wonder where the homeless man in his thirties, one of far too many for a town this size, carrying everything he owns in a plastic bag as he slowly crouches by, is going. He tries to be invisible. Unnoticed. He fails. I wave. He smiles uncomfortably, like he’s forgotten how, waves back. Turns his head as he passes the neighbor to see if I still notice him. I do.

I wonder how many people wave at him. How many people smile. How many would rather he was invisible.

I watch the cats laze in the sun. Content in their contentness. Zen masters so masterful, so completely Zen, that they have nothing to teach and only occasionally beg for food or attention. I wonder where they learned those skills. I wonder if there’s a Zen master cat somewhere teaching all the strays.

But the best porch sitting happens at night. With a friend. With a beer or wine or water. With laughs and hand holding and affection and compassion and stories we have told a thousand times and secrets we’ve never told anyone. The hours pass quickly. The memories never fade. Memories that remind me I am home.

That’s when we watch the stars and wonder if they are watching us. When we watch the moon hiding behind a cloud, spying on us, and wonder if it is jealous of our humanity. Jealous of our ability to laugh and cry, to rejoice and despair, to share loudly or sit in serene silence.

Jealous of our ability to wonder.

Image by Jon Tyson

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