7 AM: Daybreak on the Charles

September 7, 7:00 a.m. The sun had just risen from its nighttime slumber, and while most college students were hours away from consciousness, I was traipsing down the banks of the Charles.

I. A noisy silence. Even this early in the morning there is thehum of cars passing tacitly by—it’s too early for honking.

II. Three homeless men sleep on the grass under the shade of a weathered tree. At first glance, they are unnoticeable in their brown blankets, which blend into the earth. Bags sit on the ground next to them.

III. Two boathouses, Newell and Weld, line the shores by JFK Street. A few rowers go out on the water. They seem to glide by asquickly as the passing traffic, saying nothing as they slice the waterwith their oars.

IV. The serenity is disrupted. The construction that seems to perpetually surround Harvard makes its presence known onthe Anderson Memorial Bridge, which connects Cambridge to Allston. Atop the bridge, one construction worker turns to another.“This street is always busy.” “We’re always busy,” replies the other.

V. Dozens of people pass by, kicking up dirt as they exercise before the daily grind. Students, professors, and local residents maneuver through traffic lights as they enjoy the scenery. An old woman stumbles by, the sweat pouring down her face and onto her t-shirt, which reads “Beantown.” She reaches the bridge and cries out in triumph. These small victories of the morning set up the bigger victories of the day.

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