Walking Cross-Town. On A Golden Autumn Day.


I’m on the 5:40 am train to Grand Central.
I dose through most of the ride in.
The throngs spill out into Manhattan.

It’s 15° F, but feels like 0°.
Frigid wind gusts rush through the concrete canyons, whistling as they pass by.
Salt is gnawing on snow and ice.
Steam from underground tunnels billows out of steel grates and evaporates into air.
Now you see it, now you don’t.

The streets are beginning to stir.
Cabs. Delivery trucks. Construction workers.

I’m marching cross-town on 48th.
Headphones in. Playlist set to “My Top Rated.”

Gloves on.
Ear lobes are tingling, frost-bite workin’.
No hat. Can’t mess what hair I have left.

The wind shocks the corneas, my eyes water.
I see him a block away. A mirage.
I wipe my left eye.

It’s the legs I notice first.
They are suspended.
Swinging wildly, jointless.

I’m closing in.
Forearm crutches. Not one. Both arms.
He leaning in.
Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left.

I’m 30 feet away.

My eyes are now locked on him.
He’s shows no grimace. No strain.
He’s focused ahead. Determined.

His legs, his LEGS, are swinging, uncontrollably, suspended in the air.

I can’t break my stare. His legs.
He has no gloves. His hands are gripping the crutches. They are red. Bitter cold.

The rubber soles of the crutches hit concrete.
A clock. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc.
He doesn’t shift his gaze.
No smile. No strain. No suffering.

He passes me.
I look back.
He hasn’t let up. There’s no break in his stride.

I let him go.
I accelerate my pace.
I hit the forward button on my playlist.
Click. Click. Click. There it is. Found it!
Van Morrison. A Golden Autumn Day in February.

Now I’m standing erect
And I feel like coming back
And the sun is shining gold
Put a smile on my face
Get back in the human race
And get on with the show
And I’m taking in the Indian Summer
And I’m soaking it up in my mind
And I’m pretending that it’s paradise
On a golden autumn day
On a golden autumn day
On a golden autumn day
On a golden autumn day



  1. Revel in this golden day, rise to the level of determination in the actions of another and – get a hat.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. michael zahaby says:

    Van is my fav. Love him

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My therapist asked me this week,” Does it help to encounter people worse off than you?” “Sometimes,” I told her. “We all have sh*t to deal with. Some do it better than others.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Powerful writing David. Encounters like this tend to put things in perspective. Recently I’ve had my perspective jolted into a new place of gratitude for very basic things in life.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love this piece! The snapshot itself is powerful, but your writing and pacing are beautiful, too. Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. and there was that moment, when you crossed paths, that you both were something that is good about humanity.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Great writing and perspective on life Dave. We often get caught up in our own story and issues only to be reminded, we have so much to be grateful for.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “There, but for the grace of God”…it could be any of us. And that is why empathy, compassion, humility are gifts we give to ourselves…I believe. We just never know when our own lives might be touched by misfortune.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. And…wonderful writing…again. Thanks David.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. When I got to the sentence about not wearing a hat, I immediately thought of ear muffs as a good compromise. Then I read the rest of your post and thought it was really beside the point. Though, I have to admit, I’m concerned that vanity is winning over common sense with the temperatures you’ve been experiencing.

    This really is a beautiful passage, evoking so many emotions. If only we all can experience such moments of connection and compassion, what a wonderful world it would be.

    Liked by 1 person

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