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This is about wandering through Harvard Square in deep thought.

Ed Boyd

                                        BROWSING

I came early to our mid-April meeting in Harvard Square. I got here about 4:15PM to give me time to get a little cash from the bank machine and to wander through the stores for a while.

At last there is sun! I feel its welcome warmth and keep it in my path as I walk from the Charles Hotel to the COOP. Clement weather has brought out the street corner troubadours and jugglers who, for several years now, have enlivened the otherwise staid Harvard Square.

I feel in search of something, but donít know what. The COOP today is not totally accessible as parts are being remodeled. There are ďpardon our looksĒ apology signs all over the place. Menís clothing is only partially open, offering 30-50% sales. A Harris Tweed jacket for only $99 seems a great buy. But I donít need a Harris Tweed jacket. I poke around among the shirts and ties with the same result. Nothing speaks out to me!

I walk to the third floor where there is a bridge that leads to the COOP annex. All kinds of books can be found there. My enthusiasm warms because I can usually find a book to buy that interests me. I try the fiction section and then notice, just beyond, the section for books on writing and literary criticism. These are mostly books about books. There are books about the writings of Capote, Cheever, Adrienne Rich, Emerson, H&W James, and Steinbeck, writers that I have read and admire.

I impatiently shove a book about Proust back on the rack, feeling increasingly perturbed that nothing is singing out to me. I glance at my watch to notice that itís already eleven minutes past 6PM. If I canít make up my mind soon, Iíll be late for my 6:30PM meeting at the Charles Hotel. The time that I had set to wander and browse has evaporated.

As I walk back to the hotel, I mull over whatís happening to me. I wonder if Iím having a problem with self-gratification. Maybe, now that Iím among the ďfixed incomeĒ crowd, I have to watch my coin more carefully. Only as I sat on the bench in the waiting area of the restaurant, were we had agreed to meet, did it occur to me that maybe I just didnít need anything right now. As I let that feeling settle in, I felt inner warmth in the realization that, at the moment, I am content with everything just as it is.
Spring, 1996


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