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Photo Essay: 'Cherished Stares'

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Jon Cherry
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The alley cafe at Quills Coffee on Baxter Avenue.

This photo essay is featured in the “Home” issue of Louisville Magazine produced in partnership with Louisville Public Media.

Happily taking my leave with a hot whiskey pour lingering on my upper lip, a street corner beckons my gaze. The utility box peppered with layers of paint-marker tags holds my attention for half of a smoke. An intersection with no-walk signs in every direction signaled by big red-lit hands, about the same size as mine. Fourteen, 13, 12.... If the cigarette is a fuse, a timer of sorts, you’ll need to wait three-quarters of one of these if you want to cross this road. But jaywalking is our God-given right. Our world’s most mundane sights have earned my longest, most cherished stares.

Anxiously stepping onto the sidewalk, the wild feeling behind my eyes has made it apparent that I need a break. I don’t know anyone here. I thought I knew everyone. Perhaps, if I stand here long enough, a friend will rescue me with a familiar smile. Maybe I’ll leave. In the meantime, I have found a new home as I open the door for my favorite new stranger. They quickly offer thanks in passing. A cigarette bounces on my lips as I greet them with my squinting, smiling, “You’re so very welcome.”

Maybe it’s you and me this time around. I’ll light up two at once and greedily take a long, hot drag. Or we can share mine, as long as you don’t hog it. Finish this bad boy off once it’s a few puffs from the filter.

I note the irony of stepping out for a breath of fresh air just to be met by whichever funky fuse rests between my middle and forefinger. Would you like one? It’s really no bother.

Welcome home.

 

Tell us — what does home mean to you? We hope you’ll take a few minutes to reflect and answer these questions.

Gabrielle Jones is the Vice President of Content at LPM. Email Gabrielle at gjones@lpm.org.