Wednesday, December 09, 2015
A Day in the Life: Early Morning : Union Square, Somerville
By Doug Holder
Early Morning, Union Square. I walk down Bow Street—Goodyear's lights are on-- and a slow stream of people with tired treads, dirty transmission fluid, in need of change—of oil, in need of alignment, enlightenment—make their way into the office. I hear the jocular good morning from the Hispanic crossing guard—we are all her children, as she guides us through the gridlocked traffic of the Square. In the post office—I exchange gossip with the clerk—she told me a SWAT team was here earlier, “Well—I figured I would tell my journalist—thought you would like to know...” She tells me she is going to retire next year... “Maybe I will work the election booths with the other old ladies,” she laughed. At the Community Laundromat on Bow Street—a gaggle of homeless men are in semi-coherent chatter: “ Hey you are a weird dude—stop touching me,” one tells the other. There is an argument about which liquor store opens the earliest—vodka nips are in vogue for them. Bloc 11 is open—and there are the usual. A tall man with a reddish beard engrossed in his book, and the handsome woman I have seen for years, with a helmet of stylish gray hair-- (me thinks she works at Harvard), props a book up for her before work read. Hip baristas croon at me “The usual?” Honey grain bagel --tomatoes-- dry-- I add my hummus and fish in the back room. Outside the parade starts-- mothers with their strollers, the tight spandex of the bicyclists. At the Union Square Smoke Shop where I get my Globe and Times—the Indian woman at the counter chirps a “Good morning.” There is a strong smell of tobacco and I watch the lottery people ask for arcane combinations of tickets, mega this and thus—and in the back an opium den?—no, TV sets where patrons are hypnotized, and watch the numbers cross the screen. Back in the Bloc11 I solicit teaching advice from my friend Steve Swensen, a retired teacher from St. Joseph's and Somerville High. He feels lucky to have spent a 39 year career around a few blocks—more or less. Later I listen to a group of dog walkers talk about their canine charges as if the mutts were in psychoanalysis—a treatment plan for each—I suppose every dog has its day. People start to squeeze in Union Square Donuts—artisan donuts—not the pedestrian glazed munchkins you get at Dunkin. There are cabals of people at tables—hunched over—hatching conspiracies—or so it seems. The Neighborhood Restaurant is still there—I remember their Cream of Wheat—that wonderful—cinnamon infused lead weight in my stomach. And the outdoor eating under a lattice of vines. Bloc 11 fills—Mayor Curatone, dapper and handsome, in a dark suit—fields a pitch from another developer or what not. Mothers try to muffle their babies' cries. People come and go, and get on with their lives..