977: sights and sounds on my way to you

20231016 SD

977: sights and sounds on my way to you

Today’s episode is guest hosted by Shira Erlichman.


I’m Shira Erlichman and this is The Slowdown.

When my partner and I started dating we noticed a key difference between us. I tended to be obsessively early & Angel tended to be, well, late.

In all of the destabilization and trauma of my twenties, structure, schedule, and a sense that expectations would be met were survival modes I had fostered. So the very first time she showed up later than we’d agreed I told her: “You can’t be late. It's a non-negotiable for me.” She heard me, and over the decade plus, she has tried (and succeeded) to be earlier if not on time. Plus, by the time I’d presented her with that ultimatum I was already head over heels. As I fell for her, and subsequently moved cities to be closer, and kept falling. And the years flew, I found myself clinging less to those words. She adjusted to my ways and I adjusted to hers.

After all, there’s something to moving at a less mechanical, neurotic, or clock-observing pace. I admit I’ve grown to enjoy waiting for her by the door, keys in hand, as she thickens her lips with a startling red, drifts a silver eyeliner beneath her bottom lid, and compares two jackets by pressing each individually, slowly, against her. “Bring a book!” She reminds me, stuffing one in her tote.

There are things we come to see only by slowing down. She stuffs a paperback because it’s lightweight; leaves the thick hardcover by the bed for when we return. Once outside, she’s the first to point out the sunset. It bleeds psychedelic over the bodega. I pause to take a photo. Folded into the cab, we sit in separate silences, combing the Brooklyn landscape with our eyes.

Years ago, I might have been checking the time, panicking, texting an early apology to whoever we were meeting. It’s not that as she’s grown to care more, I’ve grown more careless. Where we would have played tug-of-war, now we release and find ourselves in gorgeous stasis. “Look,” she points out the window at a mural electric with purple and blue zig-zags. “Babe,” I point to a shadow cast by a weeping willow on a garage door. But what I am really saying is, Thank you for slowing me down, so I don’t miss a thing.

Today’s poem is an ode to observation. As the speaker makes moves to meet her beloved, we get lost in her quiet noticing, which is, in and of itself, an arrival.

sights and sounds on my way to you
by Geleisa George

these pigeons look skinnier in the rain.
someone’s dog has had the shits for three
avenues sometime this morning.
there’s a baby yelling “baby” across the way
and the church bells sing christmas tunes for noontime.
a van is parked just shy of the corner on the sidewalk
from which, men are unloading chandeliers.
two umbrellas tap each other hello as they hurry
through the mist and the sound of reggaeton
pumps through the speakers of a gold parked camry.
and though it’s raining, the sunshine is slowly fighting
its way to the damp surfaces nearby. 
i was so close to being on time.

“sights and sounds on my way to you” by Geleisa George. Used by permission of the poet.