Those who know me – and I count you among them – know that I’m not a morning person. This is not because I am unpleasant upon rising but because, once risen, I am forced to see the world for what it is and not as I prefer it to be.
It is a momentary realization that I am quick to knock back.
Once fully awake, lunch bag pulled from the fridge, bus pass confirmed, I enter the world quietly. In the cool gloom of the morning, ever-so-slightly chirpified now that the song birds are back, I stand at the bus stop, one ear on the iPod, the other attuned to the pervert I suspect is creeping up on me.
Which brings us to Mike.
Mike has not yet shown himself to be a pervert, although there is always time for that, isn’t there? He introduced himself last summer, I believe it was, appeared out of the semi-darkness of the park, a cigarette clinging to his curled upper lip. He wanted me to know that he saw me every day, wanted to be able to say “good morning” properly. Introductions over, he pedaled away, the blinking red light attached to the back of his helmet winking at the past.
For months, I saw him. From across the street, he’d bellow: “’Mornin’, Pearl!”
And I’d raise a hand. “’Mornin’, Mike!”
And then one day, he was gone. For months, I watched for him, vaguely missing someone I didn’t know.
It’s a funny thing, living in a city. The people with whom I ride the bus, the security guards in my building, the people with whom I practice yoga: all of these people are strangers, intimate strangers. We smile at each other, comment on the weather, admire each other’s handbags and shoes.
Together and alone, we intersect briefly and move on.
When Mike disappeared, my morning was shy one helmeted, cigarette-smoking bicyclist.
And yesterday morning, he was back.
“Mike!” I yell. “Where you been?”
But Mike just waves, just keeps pedaling. And then he is a block away and still moving, the blinking red light getting smaller and smaller.
Where had he been? I’ll never know.
It’s not that kind of relationship.