The thing I've always liked about urban crowds was that being among them is so much like going to the beach. They flow along the sidewalks in patterns set largely by the traffic signals, gather on park benches or at bus stops that are like tidal pools, flow in and out of doorways as waves flow around rocks. Urban crowds are apparent chaos which follows an underlying order. Walking through busy streets, I am aware of myself being part of this fractal geometry in which randomness -- even my own -- is absorbed into a pattern. As anonymous as drops of water in a wash of foam, the members of the crowd are absorbed, their wills subsumed in nature. Here and there, an odd bit of detritus floats; a ranter, a street preacher, a panhandler. They are like the strange bits of marine life caught in pools or washed onto the sand. But even these who stand out are part of that crowd, swept into the great pattern despite their eccentricity. It's been a long time since I've seen one of those crowds. Shoppers at a mall don't generate that sense of randomness generating order which real street crowds bring. As much as I enjoy watching flights of birds or drifting masses of cloud, I miss the crowd, and I miss becoming an anonymous part of it.