With an empty heart I walked down the city blocks and noticed how the pavement sparkled in the sunlight. With a tearful quivering voice, the sidewalk thanked me for noticing. He said that nobody had appreciated his sparkle since 2002. A woman named Sara, if memory served him. I introduced myself, stooped down and placed the palm of my hand on him for a brief moment. Even sidewalks need to shine sometimes, I thought to myself.

On I went from one block to the next, one foot in front of the other, hoping that with one of the coming steps I might finally be born. Suddenly I felt pulled in a new direction. I began to move toward the mountains without giving this compulsion any thought. I realized after a few steps that the sidewalk gave way to nothing but road for a good fifty yards. I stepped onto the street, closed my eyes and imagined that I was a sexy risk taker who lived by the skin of his teeth. I thought about how any car wishing to take a right turn might collide into me and that I might be seriously injured. I felt momentarily happy at the idea of getting visitors and flowers at the hospital and then sad when I recalled that only lovers, patients, corpses and the bereaved receive flowers. Suddenly I realized that sexy risk takers probably don’t get caught up in these sorts of concerns and chuckled at myself. I thought about how so many things make me happy and sad. And this made me happy and sad as well. I had a brief fantasy about going to the market and buying flowers and handing them out one-by-one to passing strangers. Then the fantasy was lost as I recalled that I was probably too shy to do this sort of thing.

As I opened my eyes I realized that I was at a cemetery. Not just any cemetery but the one in which my grandparents were buried. I walked in the direction of where I remembered their grave plaques to be—near a white statue of some old saint or other. I thought to myself that the cemetery wasn’t particularly nice and it made me angry to recall that even death required money. For a brief moment I wished that they could be at the nice cemetery that overlooked the ocean. But then I remembered with pride that those weren’t the sorts of things my grandparents concerned themselves with and so I wouldn’t either.

When I found their plaque and stood over it I realized that my grandparents’ bones were beneath me. I felt sad that I never thought to visit them; that they were gone; that I would never hear my grandpa call my grandma “vieja” again. I walked over to the bench underneath the statue, sat down and began to cry. I realized that I was crying about a hundred things at once: I cried for my mom, my grandparents, my lost and unrequited loves, the lonely, the poor, the pain of my friends…

I realized how the statue that gave me shade represented what was once a real living person. I wish he had known in his lifetime that one day he would be commemorated with a statue that gave me shade and comfort. Then I chuckled at myself again when I realized that he was probably a saint precisely because he didn’t concern himself with such trivial matters.

I saw a security guard in the distance and I wondered if he was going to give me a hard time. I prepared a defense in which I pointed toward the grave plaque and explained that my family paid good money for it and that, therefore, he hadn’t the right to kick me out. This imagined battle never came. I laughed at myself again and walked home tired from my cry. 

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