After every other cycle of lights, and always after the pedestrians cross, there is a changeover in signals that takes just seconds too long and becomes a moment in itself. In amongst the swell of the city which lurches ceaselessly for miles all around, upon one small square island of tarmac crossroads descends for a moment a fragile, fleeting calm. The world stands at attention at the threshold; the busses hiss and grunt like great impatient beasts; a pedestrian moves to cross while they can, but then wavers, one foot in the air, and instead steps back and waits; a cyclist balances on the spot, rocking backwards and forwards, poised, as the moment, between motion and station.
There are a thousand ways one can waste this moment, and a thousand people have done so a thousand times. They have passed this way so often they know it intimately. They could cross the island blind, could time the changeover to the millisecond, and they know exactly what possibilities the moment allows them. They change songs, light cigarettes, fumble in nooks, stare vacantly into space, or otherwise waste the moment - day after day.
When shared, though, the moment needs not be so wasted. When shared, this pause becomes something sublime, a pure moment dedicated entirely to companionship. A window in a busy life in which there is nothing worthwhile to do except that most worthwhile act of expressing love and affection. Where one might stare into nothing, instead one can glance over at the passenger seat and meet eyes for a moment. Rather than reaching in search of some meaningless distraction, one can reach over and make a beautiful connection with a hand or a leg or a shoulder. Instead of frittering them away, these moments can be spent in pursuit of that greatest and most valued of human achievements.
But that pursuit might always be futile. At some point in the chase, it may become obvious that the prey has escaped. Disappeared. And with it, taken much more. Taken the tranquil island, leaving in its place a cold wide void. Taken the wide view of a spectrum of society and replaced it with a narrowed, telescopic focus on one car across the void. Taken even the fleeting moment, dragging and distorting it into something different.
Eventually, though, even this moment ends. The lights change and the pause disappears, washed away by the wave of motion sweeping over the crossroads.
As we pass in the middle, she never as much as even glances at me.