Sunday, July 15, 2007

Strangers in the story

Being in NYC, I spend a fair amount of time in transit to my locations of destination, and inevitably I also spend a fair amount of time in close proximity to strangers. When I first moved here I would treat such time as annoyance, and recede within the depths of my vast and detailed (my friends might say "crazed" or "drunk" which is sometimes true) imagination, or perhaps staring inadvertently or furtively at an attractive stranger's exposed cleavage (I doubt I am in the minority regarding this habit).

But after reading so much detective fiction the past week, I've tried to be more conscious of the unspoken characteristics of the strangers I meet, and if possible, what back story they might be harboring. For example, clothing can meet a lot or a little, but body language speaks volumes: I remember one blond girl wearing a white tanktop, jean shorts, bracelets, and a gaudy necklace - at first glance I thought she was some fun-loving college girl who went to concerts and was likely to harbor a valley girl accent. But her shoulders were hunched, her posture sunken, and she had twitching, scanning eyes, her mind never losing itself in imagination or thought and remaining always alert. Her face conveyed a defeated, angry appearance, as if it were a barren desert facing a recent drought of fond memories and honest smiles. Another older, black woman sat with quiet politeness, her voice responding to a fellow passenger's query with a bright tone, her voice exuding a sense of soft warmth, her hands placed elegantly on one knee crossed over the other, and her face an easy canvas of wide eyes and plentiful smiles.

Summertime, and the living is easy. Oh how it is my friends. How it is.

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