“Is that a dolphin?” she asks. Sixtysomething, silver hair, in a wheelchair, golden retriever by her side. Looks like they've been here a while, thinking about things, asking big questions.
I peer out at the bay, glassy water with occasional ripples. A few boats, condos and hotels on the opposite shore. A distinct absence of dolphins.
“Where?” I ask.
“Right there.” She points to a spot not 20 yards from us. A grey, bulbous object rests on the surface at the lip of the shore. I stare hard.
“No, I think that's a plastic bag.”
She considers this. The retriever sits patiently, as though nothing out of the ordinary is happening.
“Oh, maybe it is.” She keeps looking, wheels spinning in search of a jackpot. “Yes, I think you're right. That is a plastic bag. It looked like a dolphin.”
Plastic bag. Dolphin. What's the difference, really, in broad daylight, under a bright blue sky with no clouds anywhere?
“I guess it did.”
“I just worry about them, you know, the dolphins.” She's still staring at the water. I'm nodding my head.
“Have a good one,” I say, but she doesn't hear. She has turned away and started wheeling herself along the walkway toward the north end of the bay, dog by her side.
Oh, the things they will see today.
I continue south, toward the bridge. More water, with their ripples. More boats. Joggers and bicyclists on the path with me. All moving. Starting somewhere, ending somewhere else or the same place.
The woman and her dog fade into memory. A random interaction that leaves a lasting impression. Starting somewhere, ending somewhere else or the same place.
Pretty much describes us all, when you think about it. So don't think about it.