Outside Nicole’s Unisex Salon on 5th Avenue, there is an unremarkable patch of sidewalk.
Standard concrete slabs cemented together three-across. The color of sky just before it rains.
I walk over this sidewalk every morning around 7:15 headed south. I have since November. And since November, I have seen a woman who walks over this sidewalk every morning around 7:15 headed north.
She is slim and possibly in her mid-forties and always in corduroys and an olive-colored jacket with the hood pulled up around her face. Her walk is fast, straight ahead, can’t be interrupted.
So, I don’t interrupt her. Don’t smile, wave, acknowledge. It’s not worth it. I’ve walked this route for 70 days, probably seen her on 60 of them, and not once have we made eye contact. She’s northbound. I’m southbound. We’ve got our own lives to live, I guess.
But this January morning, just before I get to Nicole’s Salon, I decide to interrupt her. Maybe because it’s a little warmer than usual. Or I’m a little more curious than usual. But probably because I want human connection.
“Excuse me,” I cross the concrete slabs of sidewalk towards her. She does a full-stop. Turns her eyes on me for the first time in 60 days. She has lovely dark eyes.
“I see you every morning,” I say. “I don’t know your name. I just wanted to say hello. I’m Caitie.” We are standing in front of Nicole’s Salon.
“Oh!” She opens her arms up. Crosses the small bit of concrete between us. And hugs me.
And I can’t help but think that something remarkable has happened on this unremarkable patch of sidewalk.
“What’s your name?” I ask. “Anna,” she says. “You are?” “I’m Caitie.”
She waves. Then Anna goes northbound. And I go southbound. Living our own lives. Which, I’m reminded, are worth interrupting sometimes.