Manny looked away from Jo and over toward the runners who had congregated across the street. They moved about effortless, laughing between bagel bites, sipping coffee, standing, looking around, checking the time, bending into the most elongated poses, posturing, preparing for The Wilderness. And the others, relaxed or maybe tired, sitting, taking in more than a sip or two of coffee, drinking the entire cup then buying another, in less of a hurry, sharing the salt and pepper if anyone asked, napkins too, talking philosophically, nodding and tipping their heads to and fro.
Manny and Jo, stood poised, at attention as two of the fittest manikins styled the latest in springtime athletic wear for women in a Treyvor’s Department Store show window on Fifth Avenue in New York City, two blocks west of The Wilderness. Across the street was Hatties Bagels one of the few coffee and bagel stores open at 6AM on a Saturday. It was one of the few times the City slept, with the exception of the early exercisers, the runners of course. And, it was no surprise that runners congregated at Hatties, in eyeshot of the veteran stick figures of sport fashions, sipping coffee and sharing bagels, many not even realizing they stood in the playground of a fitness fashion makeover.
As their AmTrak train arrived in New York City, the screeching sounds of brakes grinding to a stop gave way to a sense that something special was about to unfold. Doris and Lois, dragged their carefully packed bags, backpacks actually, that were only easy to carry during the departure from Baltimore. Somehow, during the train ride these bags transformed into cement blocks, becoming heavier and wider, and any plans to walk the distance from mid-town to Battery Park seemed less likely. It was New York City at 9AM and the hum of the city, the tall buildings that on some blocks shut down the sky, had that unique smell of humanity that the shop owners did their best to hose back onto the streets, for a city that claimed to never sleep.