People Watching

People Watching

It’s a funny thing, really. People watching. Strangely addicting.


I was saddled on a wooden chair, its auburn paint chipping away. I couldn’t help but pick at the legs. I felt like it made that stool seem heartier somehow. Like it had been through the ringer and back and now had to deal with me picking at its leftover scabs.


I noticed a Peruvian man greet what I assume is his wife. Two rings, each on the proper finger. Ángel. He croons to her. And I imagine they live a pretty happy life close enough to the beach, but far away enough to still smell the scent of pines and watch the sun set behind the cypresses. It isn’t anything overly romantic, but they get by. From the creases by her eyes, I am guessing she has struggled. Maybe not the same as me, but she knows struggle all the same. Teenage pregnancy. She probably is incredibly close to that son of hers now. And her current husband, no, he’s not the father. He reminds me of my grandfather, to be honest. His mannerisms. The way he folds his hands when he chuckles and how he carries a handkerchief in his shirt pocket. An endearing quirk that only she probably appreciates.


There is that boy and that girl. Over by the marble staircases. With wrought iron railings. She is balancing on the precipice of a middle step, her pinky centimeters away from the railing. So close I can practically feel the pulse of the magnetic field. Her energy – vibrant and youthful. Innocent. She has dreams of visiting the Louvre one day. Dreams like me. Fraught with wanderlust and honeysuckle wings. She loves reading Gaelic folklore and he will one day ask her to the senior prom. And they will go. Twirling pinwheels and swaying like nymphs across the seashore somewhere just south of serendipity. They will spend the rest of their childhood watching rooftop fireworks and believing that they are on the edge of greatness. Something like a tiger striped sky with rays of lingering gold. They were taught they could shine. That they could stand on their tiptoes and climb over the contours of deep seated dreams, one staircase at a time.


My favorite is the woman with the open guitar case. Twenty-seven dollars to a name that is probably something mystical. Something like Amara or Miko. Paradise. Beautiful child. She is strumming over ivory and silver horsehairs, crying out for the depth of the night, where only an expanse of solitude awaits. She is bold. Living her life through her art. Abundant in thoughts, less so in money. A steadfast heart. Coated in sagebrush and lotus flowers. She knows not what it means to desire for something more than a few dollars of recognition. Her harmony does not have a price. And I am soothed by the warmth of her words. She is sugarplum poetry and a sultry silhouette of a crescent moon.


From here on this four-legged stool, I can simplify the universe into little pockets of the globe. It makes life a bit easier. Compartmentalizing like this. Seeing pieces of me in everyone else. Realizing that we are all ridiculously connected even if I will never know the faces of 99 percent of humans on this earth. And what’s more is that I will know even less about the space that surrounds our planet. The galaxy. Galaxies. What lies beyond. Where do souls go when bodies fall? Where do the loves of former flames dance? In dying embers? In dormant volcanoes? In the sinews of my imagination, whenever I feel that deep sense of nostalgia when a familiar song comes on or when I smell someone else wearing their cologne? Does it ever stop? Any of this? Will it? And what do all of the curious minds do when all of the Rubik’s Cubes have been color coded? When libraries become digitized and we can no longer inhale the pages of cardboard trees and literary dust? When we have pondered the universe so far and wide that we ourselves are left confused and befuddled? I suppose, the people like us, well, they must be sitting on a bench under a street lamp somewhere, people watching.

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