Tuesday, March 18, 2003

It's the only thing that there's just too little of

Sunday night's Vigil - it was a good thing, for me anyway. It was actually just a space, a peaceful space for me to think, and comtemplate, and people-watch. When I got there, it didn't seem like there were a lot of people, but I was early, and this is New York, you don't get to anything, including Peace Vigils, early. I circled Union Square on my bike, then went towards the music. Someone was playing some sort of war-drum thing, which was sorta disturbing, and anxiety-producing; but like I said, it was early. But then the music was off, the candles started getting lit - no announcements, no speaches, just candles, and ordinary people mingling around, and I was offered a candle. I politely said no thanks, but within minutes regretted it. Fortunately, another kind soul came by and offered, and I accepted as he lit it for me. Odd, having this precarious thing, this flame in my hand, needing tending, my hand shielding it from wind, or from people walking past. Some folks began to spread out, trying to give the Square a fuller look, but I stayed in one place, having the bike between my legs, I didn't want to navigate in a crowd. A woman stood by me, reminding me of my mother - didn't look like her at all, but was just around the same age, well-dressed, holding her candle alone. Eventually she ran into a friend, and they conversed quietly. I noticed a man near me, his back to me - actually, his backpack to me. Quite ordinary, but the fact that he was also alone, quiet, simply observing, made me watch him more than others around me. Childen with candles walking through the crowd made me a bit nervous, but they did fine, and several had hand-made peace signs. Lots of people were taking photographs, but my digital stayed in my coat pocket. I heard the man near me speak - he said something like "Military?" to an older man walking past, apparently recognizing a patch of some sorts on his cap. The older man smiled, said yes, and said which branch of the services he had been in. The guy near me simply said "Marines", they simply nodded to each other, smiling weakly, looking into each other's eyes, this sort of knowing bond; the older man continued slowly to walk past with the crowd, as their hands touched each other's shoulders. It made me wonder what about thier experiences brought them here today, but it's not hard to imagine.