Having George in another city part-time has me venturing out solo more than I have since we've been married. The result is I’ve been made more profoundly aware of strangers around me and the conversations they’re having...wondering what they’re about and who they are as they pass me in the streets or sit near me on the train.
Speaking of the the train, I took it from North Austin downtown for SXSW last week. It was packed solid…all the seats taken and commuters standing shoulder to shoulder. I didn't mind at all… having lived in NYC this seemed typical and it gave me a chance to hide behind some big guy's denim jacket and backpack so I could secretly observe people and wonder what their stories might be.
While blatantly staring at a pretty blue haired young woman trying not to look like I was staring at her, a man in front of me sneezed. I immediately held my breath. I understand that at some point you have to breathe again...the same sneezy air that's inside this little steel bullet that everyone else is breathing in. How long does it take for a sneeze to dissipate I wondered, still holding my breath. Maybe if I just take really tiny shallow breaths like a goldfish gulping I won't inhale particles of said sneezer’s saliva which continued to dance around in my air space.
Now that I had worked myself up into a completely neurotic state, I started noticing a lot of little children coughing and sneezing. I picked up the scarf that I was wearing around my neck and put it over my nose and mouth, knowing full well that I looked like an obsessive compulsive weird person.
The train stopped and the doors opened to pick up more riders. “Ahh new air” We all adjusted our cramped bodies to magically create enough space for 5 more commuters. My mind went back to it’s happy "people watching making up stories" mode.
I started to imagine how it will feel on the eventual day that some young person looks at me and considers me old enough to offer their seat to on a train.
We stopped at Martin Luther King and several people got off creating some vacancies.
A young guy with skinny jeans, leather jacket, SXSW badge dangling from a laniard, tattoos on his strong forearms, baseball cap on backwards looked at me and said "would you like that seat?"
Yikes!! No sooner did I think "I wonder what it would feel like?" And Bamm! I smiled and said "no thanks I'm fine standing!"
I suppose it would've been nice to sit down but my ego was temporarily bruised! Did I look so old and fragile already? Then he looked at his friend who was standing with him and said “Hey man you want that seat?"
The tattoo boy was just being a nice guy! I was just being that obsessive compulsive weird person who covers her mouth with her scarf when someone sneezes.
Maybe I need to start observing my own story more often!