The sky is blue and full of clouds, the sun is shining, and the streets are full of people and pigeons. And that is what most people would say they saw, if asked.
Ian sees that the bricks in one section of the sidewalk in front of him are crumbling, almost past recognition as something other than red dust. A few weeds try to force their way through the fragments, though badly mangled by the feet of an uncounted legion of people. Further down the way, the flutter of pigeons’ wings catches his eye.
There is a house which might have been brought forward two hundred years, kept perfectly intact. Everything looks old but perfectly preserved, age explicit only in the texture of the front steps and the ripples in the windowpanes. The house beside it could almost be a study in contrasts, peeling paint and warped wood made more ugly by the juxtaposition. Ian can’t help admiring the first house while wishing someone would fix up the second.
Where Ian sees detail, the wealth of the world around him, Gabe barely sees even street signs and the people he must walk around. If he looked, he would see the bricks, and know that they have been around longer than he has. He would know that of the two houses, the second is older, and that all the antiques on the exterior of the first house are newer than the most recent coat of paint on the other. That the door-knocker on the second is almost as old as the country, and has never been out of use.
But he doesn’t look, choosing to blinder himself, like a horse on a busy road. He knows from hard experience that if he doesn’t deliberately not see the world around him, he will see too much. Instead he stares at Ian’s back and wonders what it would be like to see nothing but what’s on the surface.