About a week ago, I was driving down High St in Hamilton, the AC blowing a cool breeze into my face. I was listening to an worn-out CD a buddy had burned for me many months ago. Some Lamontagne on there, Modest Mouse and other Indie bands as well. With the music blaring and a Pall Mall dangling from lips, I sat at a red light and spent a few moments thinking about High St and all its little nuances and vagaries.
There’s a blown-glass shop on left that seems out of place in Hamilton. It screams “Arty” and “modern”, two words not usually associated with this town. Up and down High St are also various Dollar Stores. Definitely not “Arty” but if you live under the poverty line, “practical” seems apt.
If you glance either way while trekking down High St, you’ll see a melting pot of people walking. Business suits and tattered clothes walking in different directions, the former heading to their job at First Financial bank or maybe the courthouse and the latter heading to the Salvation Army for a free meal or maybe the library for a respit. The haves and have-nots a blur on the sidewalks, walking with a purpose.
I take another drag on a cigarette, the light turns green and I’m off again. I don’t remember exactly why I was driving that day, probably was headed to stalk an ex but its not really important. I inch forward through the lunchtime gridlock, lost in a song called Red Rain by the White Stripes. I’m also catching every single red light in the city of Hamilton. Typical.
I bump the Malibu up about one hundred feet and the crimson menace stops me again. After mumbling something profane, I glance out the window and see two people walking. A white guy and a black girl, probably 15 or 16. They were holding hands and laughing casually about something, they looked happy.
Admittedly, I was staring at them. I was transfixed. These cute little innocent teens, an interracial couple, walking down High St without a care in the world. Walking without fear of reprisal. I thought about how society is finally becoming more accepting of interracial relationships, it took too long but hey, progress is progress.
The light turned green, I took one last look at the happy couple and pressed forward down High St. Ray Lamontagnes haunting Burn speaking to me from the speakers, thoughts of that teen couple lingering in my mind. I adjust my Nats cap, put on my sunglasses and watch as the wisp of smoke eminating from my cigarette slowly drifts away through the cracked window.