"What advice can you give?"
She thinks for a minute. "Never give up."
"Was there a time you had to follow that?"
She smiles sadly: "I'm following it now..."
Bank Street: Artists In The Alley
"What have you learned about life through your painting?"
"I've learned to enjoy life. I've learned about the beauty of nature. I've learned that it's who I am. I started as a teenager, and now I have four kids, but one moved out, so I get to have a room dedicated to my painting."
"What advice would you give?"
Son: "Just...relax. Try not to get stressed out."
"How do you follow your own advice?"
Mom (laughs): "He drops a class when he's not doing well."
Near Larry Holmes Drive
"What has having a kid taught you about life?"
"I know what responsibility is now. If I don't get up, it wouldn't work day-to-day. I'm a better person for him."
Fifth and Northampton Streets
"Part of the day I spent running, and then part of the day I spent watching this show on TV about Jane Goodall."
"You mean the woman who studies the apes?"
"Yeah--the Ape Lady. You know she's eighty years old and travels three hundred days a year? She's amazing!"
"Are you an optimist or a pessimist?"
"I'm an optimist."
"Gotta look on the bright side: I don't got no money, but I got my beautiful wife!"
"Can I get your picture?"
"Sure! Do you mind if he keeps on doing his thing in the fountain?"
Inside Easton Farmers Market, Northampton Street
"Communities face the same problems we faced 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago. There's police brutality, voting rights, kids dropping out of high school. It keeps coming around. My friend here just wrote a book about it."
Off Bank Street
"You should open your own business."
I asked why he said this, and he pointed to a restaurant across the street.
"Yours?" I asked.
He nodded. "The future is in your own hands."
I asked, "What's the best thing about life?"
She smiled, "Yo no hablo mucho Inglés."
I was sorry I had assumed she did. "Oh, lo siento mucho. ¿Cuál es el mejor de la vida?"
"Ahhh...La vida es buena!"
"Here's my advice: Today is yesterday's tomorrow."
"What does that mean to you?"
"Well, I just lost a good friend. He doesn't have anymore tomorrows."
"Look around this place. I'm so proud to live here, y'see. I moved here from Philly, where it's all hustle and bustle, but here it's mild, y'see. I love just walking around this town. I love how mild it is."
"I love it here--the kids come in and throw their arms around you. There's value in reading aloud; I can see reading improvement in the kids. My husband still reads to me and I read to him. He's like, 'You have to hear this!'"
By Bank Street
"Just getting some coffee with my rescue dog."
"Yeah, she's 30 pounds heavier than when I found her wandering along the side of the road. She loves to swim."
In front of the restaurant on a warm spring day, he plays to a capacity crowd that dines, discusses, relaxes.
"The craziest thing I ever did was hop a fence to pet some cows."
"You did that?"
"Yeah--it was ten o'clock at night and my friend and I were driving back from Wegmans, and we passed this farm. I was like, 'Dude, we HAVE to pet those cows!'"
"I work here. It's really cool. We do expressive arts..."
"Tell me about that...expressive arts?" I asked.
"It's like art therapy."
"Oh. Who are your clients?"
"We have a lot, like from the Northampton County Jail and the Third Street Alliance."
Spring Garden Street
Sometimes I totally mess things up. Today I had two nice, willing subjects and then I asked a question I frequently ask: "So, What's some life advice?"
Maybe I blindsided them; maybe they were in a different place, but it didn't work.
"Life advice?" They asked.
"Yes... Some words of wisdom."
They looked at each other.
"Ummmm... 'The journey is the destination'?" said the one on the left.
"You're really going to say that?" Said the one on the right. They both looked down. Silence.
"'Get outside'?" Said Right. More silence. "We're not good at this."
"Did you see my awkward smile?" Asked Left.
Finally, the verdict, from the one on the right: "The journey is the destination...outside."
Then they walked away. As did I.
"I've been homeless for the past two months and it's been really difficult. I got four kids, one together with my ex, but her parents booted me out. I'm going to work, though, at the dollar store--they're training me for management. My advice? Ya gotta work for it; it's not just gonna fall into your lap."
Second and Northampton Streets
The dog is Prince. I was informed by both women, in loud unison, that he's "Two years AND FOUR DAYS!"
These are the stories of the people of Easton, PA