Everyday Characters

Photo by Timothy Takemoto. Used under Creative Commons License.

I get up before dawn most mornings to run a 6-mile loop through the streets of my neighborhood. It’s a mixed-use place – bars, restaurants, shops, apartments and homes – near downtown Los Angeles. It’s urban and busy and ugly and beautiful all at once as the sun rises and my shoes slap-slap-slap a rhythm down the sidewalk. Each morning without fail, there is an ancient Asian woman on one of the side streets. She is stooped over and wearing a housecoat as she sweeps leaves off the sidewalk. She pets every dog that passes and ignores me. I wonder about her. Which of the apartments is hers? Why does she sweep the leaves? Did she have a dog once? I’ve never run on a weekday when she wasn’t there doing her sweeping. Someday, she won’t be, and I’ll miss her.