Prepare yourselves: winter is coming

I wrote a while ago about riding my bicycle home on a Sunday morning. The silence and the desertedness of the streets was enchanting at that point. This last Sunday morning I had a whole different experience of a sleeping city. No longer reveling in the sweet summer heat, lingering even through the night, she begins to shiver as soon as the sun goes down and the morning light doesn’t bring heat so much as a harshness. The sounds of the bus engines are that wracking cough I hear from the boxes in the department store entryways. The harsh glare of the rising sun no longer washes across the land but instead strikes the frozen ground with fierce blows.

The bus trundled up towards the freeway, its contents bundled in layers to ward off the cold. We each kept to ourselves, for the most part. I felt alone, but comfortable in my cocoon of solitude until the silence, previously only broken by the coughing engine and icy ‘bing’ of the bell was shattered by the most visceral, gutteral, inhuman yell. But it wasn’t only a yell, it was a grunt with the volume of a yell. The man in the seat behind me had for some reason been divested of speech, or the ability to pull the cable lining the top edges of the windows and had instead decided to convey his intent to disembark with this screaming roar. I felt as if warm, dusty filth had descended on me in an invisible layer. The protective solitude I had enjoyed was shattered by a man obviously capable of harming me and unpredictably free of social constraint. As the rest of us watched from the safety of peripheral vision, he marched to the back door of the bus where he turned to face the rear and bestowed another of his diaphragm cracking grunts on those few riders taking refuge in the back seats. Another wave of dust and metaphorical ooze dripped like a warm egg down my scalp and shoulders. I shivered and finally noticed the other passengers. Nearly a dozen men, lonely as me, bundled up in drab colors. Already unnerved by the disturbed man behind me, everyone else seemed a threat. The next twenty minutes were almost painful. I tried to forget, tried to distract myself but the memory of this sound, an animal sound from a human throat, stuck with me and sent shivers down my spine until I was able to get home and fall into a deep sleep.

I love my city, but sometimes she can be a harsh, scary bitch.