imagining a kitchen table at breakfast in winter

18 December 2008

What is it that invisible thread of connection that binds you to a stranger?  What is it about that person that stands out in the sea of intentionally bland, internalized faces in a busy transit commute in a busy city?  What makes your attention rest on a particular person; makes you wonder about a stranger’s life?                                 

Say you see something in a pair of bright blue eyes.  Brighter and clearer than you might expect to see in a body even decades younger than the seventy odd year old one that houses these ones.  Something in the way they stop on you only for a split second and move away just as you notice them.  You know in that instant those eyes are present; they are living in their surroundings, not glazing over them.  And you somehow know those eyes didn’t glaze over you. 

Then you notice the way he lingers back casually away from the rest of the people at the bus stop, not needing to stake a place just where the driver will stop to ensure a seat.  The peaceful way he sits in the crowded bus, holding various bags and an awkward plastic box without fumbling or struggling or intruding on anyone else.  You notice something that is somehow lucid and purposeful in way he pulls on his gloves while still holding on to those bags and the box.  That mouth drawn up in a way that elongates his chin makes him look something like Ray Bolger – an expression that could make him look simple or comical like The Scarecrow, but doesn’t.  It’s a mouth housed in a face that is alive to its surroundings.  A face and a body alive to a moment.

Today I encounter a stranger.  After he exits the bus I imagine what his kitchen is like, and him making breakfast and coffee, planning a day that will include an early bus ride.

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