We, the pretenders

I sit in the front window of this vegan cafe on Hawthorne, the land of excess, beggars, skinny jeans, vintage, and breakfast all day. I watch a man wake up from his flattened cardboard across the street from my perch. One shoe on, the other I spot on the sidewalk in a jumble of things; I wonder if he knows where it is, if I should tell him. I notice he's in front of a store called Harmony, a place that sells meditation pillows and incense. He begins arranging things, moving between the sidewalk and two grocery carts heaped with plastic bags, and as he does his cargo spreads out even further. People step around him. I feel like the observer in a zoo, he the animal, but I'm the one enclosed by glass and concrete.

An hour has passed; he's moved one store down to Presents of Mind. His movements repetitive now, a slow stalling of time, heavy limbs and he stumbles and catches himself on his cart. Sucks air and takes a full outstretched palm to the side of his head, wipes, stumbles again and straightens up. Picks up each foot, stomps the ground, bends his knees, and pulls from his sweatshirt pouch a small white paper. He smooths it between his fingers, forms a dip, and with his other hand reaches into his pouch, places a pinch in the dip, stumbles, settles, fingers the paper back and forth and rolls. This he brings to his lips, lights and breathes. This that has never left him. In a billow of smoke, he pushes on past Starbucks.

So much like everyone. Trying to get our shit together, moving between things and places, time slipping, stumbling and settling, having a fix, and finding a moment of grace.