When the bosses are away, Jamie will take very long lunch breaks and wander aimlessly for a sunny stoop to read on.
Instead of walking towards Northern Liberties, I walked west, past the Baby Factory, down Buttonwood (where I definitely should not have been alone).
This Buttonwood is not so dissimilar from Button Woods, which was haunted when I was a kid. Haunted by bored stoners who threw rocks and yelled. Allie and I definitely shouldn’t have been there alone. But if we had to run she could just jump on the pegs and I would pedal fast towards Nik’s house, where we were safe from ghosts, but then had to deal with the wrath of Macedonians, and baby doll heads, and Virgin Marys. (which are all very similar, by the way)
I was getting hungry and a left would have taken me to the usual bustle of Reading Terminal, towards sweet potato salad and cupcakes. I went right, intrigued by a big empty building whose windows were smashed in. A Color Factory.
Under a trestle: “If you ever change your mind about leaving, leaving me behind, oh, bring it to me. Bring me your sweet love. Bring it on home to me. Yeah.”
Along an empty street glittering with the American Dream (or shards of glass), I saw a plain sign that said ‘Café.’ So I had some smoked salmon and mascarpone among some strange painted faces. I mean stranger than mine, which was firmly planted in “Tuck Everlasting,” wondering if I would have sipped from the spring, wondering if I would have run away with the beautiful Jesse with his lean brown hands and mop of brown curls, noting how the Tuck house isn’t so different from his house. Paper snowflakes and treasures piled everywhere. His mother is no Mae and his father is no Angus, but
I am a Winnie.
When I was done with my coffee, I overpaid the bill and walked back eastwards, making sure to take the side streets- Nectarine, Nobel, Wood and Pearl. And then on Buttonwood I found a most peculiar thing. A horse.A big brown speckled horse with long tan eyelashes.
Untied and unattended.
No saddle, no bridle.
Now if you told me this morning that it was going to be beautiful day, that I’d find a new favorite song and that I would find a horse in an alley in North Philadelphia… I would have jumped up and skipped the shower altogether.I looked at horse for a moment, sensing it was a trap. Little girls are often intrigued by horses and kittens and ducklings. I walked up slowly checking for kidnappers. Childhood grabbed my hand and led it to the horse’s nose.
“Hi Horse. What the fuck are you doing here?”
It probably would have asked me the same.
“Hey at least I’m brown,” it would have said.
“True. I should get back to the other side of the Baby Factory,” I would have said.
If it were a kind horse, it would have given me a lift, but after eating so much salmon, I thought it would be impolite to ask. Besides, I wouldn’t carry random smaller strangers on my back either.
It smelled like bygone meadows.
My phone rang.
I drooled and hit silence.
I touched its mane, its cheek, its shoulders.
I bid it farewell. I think it sneezed.
Or maybe it was just horse-talk for ‘ciao.’