Lunch break bells

The chimes of the noontime bells are ringing when I step out of the basement gym, into the shade between the two buildings.

The air is cool but the sun is warm out on the sidewalk and the bells are playing “Rock of Ages” as I walk down Church Street, passed the two old, stone Presbyterian Churches.

I turn right on Seventh Street at the Methodist church, the one playing the bells.

They’re loud here at the corner, and I feel in that moment the years that have gone by here, at the corner of Seventh and Church. For how many decades have the Methodists filled the lunch hour with torrents of bell music? For how many years have the Presbyterians next door rung out the hour, just before?

This old-town feel, it’s something they cultivate here, burying cables under pavement and writing “It’s a Wonderful Life” across the pharmacy windows. It’s Jimmy Stewart’s birthplace, and it’s impossible to forget.

I reach the intersection of Philadelphia Street and I see him across from me, looking down at the note card in his hand. We’ll meet in the middle if I hurry and he doesn’t see me until I call his name, break his concentration. We walk half a block together before our paths diverge again, his to the right, toward home, mine back to the office.

“I want to go the Farmer’s Market this afternoon,” I call as our paths diverge and he frowns. He doesn’t like vegetables anyway, let alone if he has to spend a little more on them.

And back at the office there are phone calls to make and emails to answer but no one is picking up their phone today.

“Rock of Ages” is still playing in my head.


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