Posts Tagged ‘observing’

I see two people sitting shoulder to shoulder on the subway, speaking but not really talking. They each grip a Starbucks cup tightly in their hands. Something to do, something to focus on, something to distract them from what’s right in front of them.

They are arguing. Not the loud shouting kind of arguing but rather the quiet, hard, tense words of a real disagreement. They are not arguing for the sake of arguing, they quite obviously disagree about something quite important.

That was days ago.

I haven’t seen them since.

I wonder if they worked it out and if they are now sitting somewhere holding hands and smiling. I hope so. That’s much better than picturing them apart, having given up, determined that the divide is too wide.

Now I look out the window and see two others, holding hands, deep in each other’s eyes‎, laughing in that laugh that only comes from the newly-in-loveds of the world. I can’t actually hear them, a thick pane of glass separating us, but I can imagine it. It’s almost as though I can see the laughter rather than hear it.

I like watching people, imagining their lives and the stories I imagine for them, based on nothing more than a glimpse, a sound, a look.

In the moments that come after I consider how others must see me, strangers that pass or those that reside permanently in my life.

What do they see? What do they imagine for me?

Do I look as tired as I feel today?

Do they think I need a haircut, a pedicure, a new wardrobe – all of the above?

Do they think my jokes are funny or they laugh out of habit? Do they wish I would talk less, talk more, listen less, listen more?

It is exhausting, this wondering about what others think. Most of the time I can’t even articulate what I think about myself, let alone try to guess what others might think of me.

So I will stop; at least for now.

I will stop trying to imagine what you think of me and go back to creating fictional stories about the strangers around me.

It’s easier to look wistfully out a window than to stare critically into a mirror.

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‎”Why are you going so fast” she said, spitting the words out in such a tone that meant even I, a stranger passing her on the street, knew she wasn’t happy.

“You need to stay with the pace” he snapped back at her, running his hand through his hair in what I assumed was a sign of frustration.

I felt for her, standing there holding the hands of two young boys dressed in their baseball jerseys and matching hats. I surmised ‎that she couldn’t keep up because she was dragging the kids along behind her, only able to move as fast as their little legs and short attention spans would allow them.

I wanted to turn to him and tell him to relax, to give her a break, couldn’t he see she was trying to keep up? But of course I didn’t. They may have been having their spat on a street corner, in full view of dozens of strangers, but this was obviously just between them.

I guessed they were coming from the baseball game that just finished and then made the leap to assume they were probably tired from a day out and about, rushing to get home before the real meltdowns started, only to find themselves caught up in rush hour and‎ the mad crush of people trying to quickly exit the downtown core.

I felt for them, all of them. I immediately identified with her, having been in almost exactly her shoes on more than one occasion. I imagined that she got up this morning with high hopes and maybe even a little bit of excitement about the day ahead. A trip downtown, an afternoon at the ballpark, a day with the family. But all too soon reality probably set in.

Kids asking for this and that and the other thing. Unforeseen complications that inevitably creep up. ‎Something gets lost, something gets forgotten, someone gets tired or hungry or both. All of that and before you know it the day you’re living looks nothing like the one you imagined.

I also felt for him. I’m sure he was just trying to get everyone home quickly and safely and I’m sure his response to her words was more about frustration than anger. How many times had I been in the same situation? How many times had I been the one snapping, at hubby, at the kids, at strangers, when it really had nothing to do with them and everything to do with me? How come it’s so much easier for me to see these things in others but not in myself?

Why can I see it so clearly when it’s someone else, but not when it’s me?

When it’s me, I can’t see the looks on the kids faces when I get angry and snap and lose sight of the bigger picture.

When it’s me, I can’t hear the tone of my own voice and how it comes across because I’m to caught up in my own emotions.

When it’s me, all that seems to matter is what I’m thinking and feeling and how I’m reacting, rather than those affected by it.

I hope after I turned the corner she went up and kissed him on the cheek and suggested they grab a couple of cool drinks for the kids and sit on a bench and let the crowds pass. I hope he smiled and pushed the hair out of her face and tucked it behind her ear, agreeing that yes, that sounded like a great plan, they would catch the next train, no need to rush.

I hope their day ended with smiles and good memories instead of cold shoulders and bruised feelings.

And the next time, when it’s me, I hope I remember her and him and those two little boys and what they taught me that day.

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‎She wore a bright pink rain jacket, the sleeves turned up at the cuffs and the hood bouncing against her back as she ran.

It was the colour that caught my attention as I sat in my car, about 15 cars back from the stop sign, waiting. I fiddled with the buttons on my stereo, trying to find a song other than Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse.” Not that I have anything against Katy Perry, per se, but is it just me or does it seem like that particular song is on the radio all the time?

As I fiddled with the buttons, out of the corner of my eye I saw the pink. Bright pink. I turned my head and saw her running down the sidewalk, the smile on her face so big and wide that I couldn’t help but feel myself grin just watching her.

I guessed that she would be about a year and a half, determined b‎y nothing else other than the fact that she was running at a pretty decent pace but still had that “I could fall over at any moment” look about her. I had forgotten that I remembered that look.

The mother in me pulled my eyes away from her long enough to confirm that someone was there with her, and I saw what I assumed was her mother trotting along behind her. She wore a thin cardigan that she tried to pull tighter as she walked, an obvious attempt to keep herself warm in the cool winds of early spring.

Of course she made sure that her daughter was bundled up tight in a rain jacket and boots but she didn’t even remember to grab a jacket for herself. How automatically we mothers tend to put ourselves second. I wanted to get out of my car and give her my jacket, believing desperately that mothers also need someone to mother us sometimes.

It became obvious to me that the little girl was not running away from her mother but was rather running towards someone. I turned my head to see if I could catch a glimpse of who ‎she was running to, but my sight line was obscured. I imagined it was her dad, just off the train, walking quickly home to her, desperate to see her smiling face and little legs pumping as fast as they could carry her.

I imagined that’s why her mom was smiling too, because dad coming home meant she had made it through another day. How intensely I can remember that feeling from my own time at home when my kids were little. The feeling of crossing the finish line (finally) and having some help (finally) and maybe, just maybe, a warm bath and ten minutes of peace and quiet (finally) would be in my future.

It may not have been her dad. It may have been someone completely different, or even something completely different and not a person at all. But I’m choosing to believe it was her dad and that when they finally got close enough to each other, that he dropped the bag he was carrying ‎and lifted her up into the sky, spinning her around a few times before hugging her tightly to his chest.

I’m choosing to believe it because sometimes it’s nice to imagine the happy endings for a change, instead of always seeing the unhappy realities.

Every now and then it’s nice to see past the dreary grey of the world and let in a little bit of bright pink.

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