Ever see an interaction between two strangers that makes you feel inexplicably lonely or sad? I’m not talking about the typical single girl shaking her head at a couple kissing on the sidewalk. No, that isn’t what I’m referring to, at all. The other day I saw a middle aged woman in braces smile goodbye at her friend before she descended to the metro, and it made me feel like crying. There was also a winnie the pooh keychain swinging from her backpack as she turned away down the stairs. I have no idea why she made me so heartsick , probably because she didn’t actually look all that happy and was possibly very upset to wave goodbye but smiled instead. Or a couple weeks ago I walked past a very old man eagerly trying to engage in conversation with a very pissed off looking waiter, who served him his coffee and spun away the very second the old man asked him a friendly question. It made my chest hurt. It is a very hard sentiment to convey, but I’ll see something happen between two people and for some strange reason, a hollowness will hit me.
And some of these interactions I’ll never forget, like the lonely man dining by himself, eating his salad in the same way a rabbit would all the while looking so dejected ; I saw this stranger 10 years ago but he’s still in my mind sometimes. Or the little girl very excitedly shopping with her Dad, smiling up at him, looking for his opinion on her dresses but he was too distracted by the phone in his hand to even feign enthusiasm. I still feel like crying when I think of these people I once saw for a few seconds. I’m not outwardly all that sentimental, I guess as a woman and an ambitious one, I have learnt to keep the majority of my emotions covered up in the same way I must keep my breasts tucked away in the two cups of a bra. But inside, I’m incredibly emotional, so much of my life is lived by whatever wave of emotions happens to be rolling through me. This is perhaps why I find such solace in writing, most of the things I cannot find the place to convey come out when I start stringing words together.
And these exchanges between humans I don’t know and will never know has been on my mind as of late. Voyeurism it is not, I am not much a fan of that word, it spins a negative on a simple human instinct: to observe our fellow humans. I love observing and listening to other people, especially when they are unaware and even more when they are complete strangers. There are so many wonderful emotions to soak up from observing others; so often they upset me but in a world where everyone is screaming about their happy lives across the screens we seem to stare at all day, I cherish these very real, very human moments. And even the melancholy that comes from them, I hold on to that too. Because while happiness is crucial, being human is a sad thing too.