I am watching.
Nothing is allowed to stand out here; everything inevitably blends into the landscape. Even the pigeons, with their animated struts and creaky wingbeats, flock together into a gray undefined mass of metal and concrete.
I like to sit by these stairs sometimes, watch as a stream of footsteps rub the white walkways to gray. I like to watch as people walk by, arguing about things that will not matter in ten years, exchanging boredoms, texting trivialities, fuming or sobbing over an atrocity that they will surely blow over tomorrow, or next week, or next year.
I watch them traveling up and down, and up, and down, the walkway eroding millimeter-by-millimeter with every dozen steps dealt to its surface; every day, thousands of footsteps pattering along dim horizons as the birds sing and the clouds sail and the leaves wave their greetings and goodbyes, the ancient mother of the land humming in the background, ignored.
And there I sit, with the land.
It’s chilly today. Crystals of frost spring up every time my foot brushes the perfectly manicured lawn.
A Cooper's Hawk lands in the middle of the parking lot to quench its thirst. A creek of soapy water flows through dust and tar to end its journey in a broken drain.
A halt. A honk. The sound of unhurried wing flaps as the hawk flees from an impatient driver. Silence.
The lightposts are a battleground. A troop of cackling grackles raises ruckus, followed by an angry troupe of crows mobbing a raven. The crows give up after the raven proves to be unbudgeable. I note a similar scuffle went on here between some students just yesterday.
People prod their phones as I methodically label the types of grackle calls and tally down the order and number of each type of call. My homework is now a scribble of the grand Great-tailed Grackle orchestra. It’s okay, my teachers are used to it.
It may be a metropolis built for man here, but the birds sure don't think so. After decades of combat with urbanization, they have adapted. Now they arrive in droves.
I continue to watch them, the birds and the people.
Some people walk up and down those steps, and down and up, and up and down again. Some of those people have given in; I see it in their face, their weary countenance, their tired manner. Given in to everything life is rumored to be infamous for. Stress. Loneliness. Hopelessness. But it’s impossible for me to give in to these things; I have another problem at hand.
It’s the birds. My life is too far gone with the birds, and I know that even in a city that never rests, if I look high enough, I can make out something.
Can they see the fire in my eyes, the tenderness in my gazes to the sky? It's too late. I’m crazy.
I am birdwatching.