Shevek (shevek) wrote,
Shevek
shevek

Dead Time

As a child in London, I used to believe that skies were brown. My window looked south towards the Heathrow flight path, and planes were more plentiful than stars. In San Jose, looking north towards San Francisco, the sky is lighter, a kind of pink. Along the roadside, the yellow sodium lights are less frequent than in England. Instead, brighter, whiter lights are set on poles clustered around the apartment block properties near the road. It is as if the white light is only for the use of residents, like the car parks and the grass. I find the yellow more comforting, more familiar, less savage.

There are no pedestrians here, and few cars, mostly loud and singular and heard at a distance accelerating hard. The privately employed leaf "operatives" have not erased all trace of autumn, and as if in rebellion, a dead branch falls on a porsche with a satisfying "thunk". Here, people seem to sleep at night, leaving a million slowly blinking red LEDs to watch over the world they have built.

In London, the quiet time is from 4am until 6am. It is dead time. A few people are abroad, and we watch the city. Sometimes we talk, and the conversations are always interesting and always different and always unexpected. But this is not that story. Dead time ends, gently, as unseen people hurry with blankets; noise, as street cleaners strip a day's chewing gum off the pavements; and light white commercial dustcarts sweep the pavements clear of bags. The city is laid afresh for the new day.

Now, here, a man waves to me from the shelter of his apartment doorway. Perhaps he thinks I am a burglar, and perhaps burglars here do not wave back. The 24-hour convenience store on the corner does just enough trade to stay open. The lights stay on, the cars fly past, and the shadows move just enough to keep the dead time at bay.

I want to walk in San Francisco until I find the dead time. I would like to hear its stories.
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