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Providence

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I wake up from a dreamless sleep as the train pulls in to the squalor of Providence Station. After a good half-hour out of consciousness, I am clear in my thinking for the first time in weeks. My friends are meeting me at an obscure intersection of two streets someplace around here. I find my way out of the overwhelming din of announcers and passengers and advertisements that infest the station, and find myself in the city, alone at last. Here is the anonymity that evades me in the tiny suburb I’ve been forced to inhabit since the first grade. My short hair and thrift store grunge style blend in perfectly with the “whatever goes” attitude of Providence. I find the right street corner at last, and perch upon a windowsill to wait for my like-minded companions to arrive.
Here I contemplate those familiar working-class burnt out drug dealers, youthful fresh-faced students eyes wide open trained to observe, weary travelers with oh-so-jaded eyes yearning for Europe or some other far-off land, scraggly-bearded old men drunkenly stumbling back and forth along the sidewalk bumming change, a Hispanic guy with a shaved head stops to offer me a wink and an overplayed pick-up line as smokers toss the still-burning cigarette butts beneath dusty boughs of suffocating tree trunks rising from gaps in concrete squares, jingling change bounces merrily in the pocket of a smiling young man’s baggy jeans, flamboyant boys in skin-tight brightly colored jeans with slickly gelled hair giggle and flirt amongst themselves while they pass an aging woman with a face as worn-out as the faded floral print dress she hides her skin inside of, a school bus stuck at the traffic light overpours children and noise and backpack clutter out of its open windows, the rich scent of coffee wafts out of the café next door each time someone exits carrying a cup of the steaming hot drink, and the gentle heated pressure of the autumn sun on my bare arms and face serenades my mind as I wait for my friends to arrive at this corner, our meeting place.
I need cities.
I need emptiness and calmness to replace the pressure of watchful eyes and overwhelming expectations. Without a burdensome past or a future of fear, I can make the most of the present. No one knows me, except those whom I want to know me. Here I am blessed with selective invisibility, and for this afternoon, nothing else matters.





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