I’m perfectly angled. The late afternoon sun is kissing my face and warming my body during this unseasonably cold Florida winter. I am the observer as my town passes by. Normally, I would be an active participant, but a recent injury has eliminated me from tennis, dance and Spa workouts. Like an injured football player, I’ve been benched. I’m temporarily engaged in a spectator sport. But what better place than on the Post Office bench. A stranger approaches, smiling. “You’ve picked the perfect spot to sunbathe.”
I return to my props: my pen and a journal to edit. Purposeful activity, lest I appear to be loitering. But I continue to observe. Folks walk by leisurely. Tourists and Harborites. I can tell the difference. The tourists turn their heads from left to right, unrushed. Their gazes are searching, not sure what to expect. The Harborites are unrushed as well, but they know where they are and they know where they are headed. Their demeanor is more purposeful.
“Where have you been? I haven’t seen you in weeks!” It feels good to be missed. I give a brief accounting of my absence, happy to see this friend. At one time or another, all townspeople eventually turn up at the Post Office. I return to my editing.
Suddenly I’m jolted. A gray truck honks as it passes and the driver waves. Normally, to Southerners and mid-Westerners, the honking of a horn is a sign of rudeness and poor breeding. But this is my homey from Central Islip, so I wave enthusiastically. Honking is what we New Yorkers do.
Strangers smile and say hello. People pass by, alone, in couples, in families. A mom and dad emerge from the building with two small children who carry packages more than half their size. The girl exclaims, “This is so heavy, what could it be?” I witness childhood eagerness. An unopened package represents mystery and excitement.
I don’t have to be dancing, playing tennis or working out to be active in my town. I can feel and participate in the vitality . . . from the Post Office bench.