Cherished Stares (9.23.22)
PHOTOS AND WORDS
BY Jon Cherry
Happily taking my leave with a hot whiskey pour lingering on my upper lip, a street corner beckons my gaze. The utility box peppered with layers of paint-marker tags holds my attention for half of a smoke. An intersection with no-walk signs in every direction signaled by big red-lit hands, about the same size as mine. Fourteen, 13, 12.... If the cigarette is a fuse, a timer of sorts, you’ll need to wait three-quarters of one of these if you want to cross this road. But jaywalking is our God- given right. Our world’s most mundane sights have earned my longest, most cherished stares.
Anxiously stepping onto the sidewalk, the wild feeling behind my eyes has made it apparent that I need a break. I don’t know anyone here. I thought I knew everyone. Perhaps, if I stand here long enough, a friend will rescue me with a familiar smile. Maybe I’ll leave. In the meantime, I have found a new home as I open the door for my favorite new stranger. They quickly offer thanks in passing. A cigarette bounces on my lips as I greet them with my squinting, smiling, “You’re so very welcome.”
Maybe it’s you and me this time around. I’ll light up two at once and greedily take a long, hot drag. Or we can share mine, as long as you don’t hog it. Finish this bad boy off once it’s a few puffs from the filter.
I note the irony of stepping out for a breath of fresh air just to be met by whichever funky fuse rests between my middle and forefinger. Would you like one? It’s really no bother.
Jefferson Square Park, where I documented the 2020 protests.
The corner of Hepburn and Barret avenues.