Thursday, February 23, 2006

Me, You, Others

Sitting here, rotting away in Corporate America, chewing antacids to appease my rebellious stomach, I feel compelled to goof off and share my trivial thoughts.

Every morning, I ride the bus to work and never tire of this commute. Someone else does the driving and worries about parking. I am not obligated to speak to anyone or make eye contact, though I occasionally do. The only social rule? To give up my seat to an elderly or pregnant person. Mainly, all I do is read.

Once deposited downtown, I head to the office at Second and Folsom Streets through a flurry of urban activity. On the way, I see city workers, bike messengers, bankers, caterers, tourists, cabbies, art students, mailmen, street vendors and professionals of all stripes. Observing this human zoo is one of the best parts of living in a large city - such a variety of life teeming in one big cauldron.

Mornings like today, when I am obsessed with the details of my life (Where will I go? What will I do? Etc.,) I find it a great comfort to hide behind my dark sunglasses and instead, study my fellow drones as they make their way through the hive. Such stories in these faces!

I see a young Irishman with a backpack walking towards BART, smoking with one hand, reading a travel guide in the other. He looks free and pleased with himself.

A power-suited woman passes me, a cell phone clamped to her blonde head. Her face is twisted in a panic and I hear her plead, "Well, I sent the email on Friday, I don't know how-"

A crazy-ass black dude walks behind me talking to someone (or perhaps, no one) about some unforgettable gams: "Her legs were crazy! Crazy, I'm telling you, the last time I saw legs like that, they were on my grandmother's dining room table!"

As I near the CNET building, I pick up nerd small talk as tech wizards compare high scores on various gaming platforms, as hunters would compare kills in the wild.

As I do every morning, I pass the same elegant entrepreneur in a brown top hat as he wheels his portable shoeshine business (complete with theater seats) down towards Market. At night, he'll roll it back, where both he and it live, under the freeway.

And on it goes. Quittin' time, same thing in reverse. Just yesterday, as I was walking home along Market, I thought to myself, "Gosh, I love this town, such a contented life here." At that very moment, a homeless guy covered completely in grime attacked a public pay phone with much screaming and violence. Hard to explain but he was somehow trying to violate the machine with parts of itself all the while delivering enraged expletives to a citenzry that, for the most part, ignored him.

Though I may not be the first to observe we are all living in our own separate realities, I am certainly the first in my universe to notice. Oh, how I sometimes wish that life were a comic book and thought balloons existed. Instead, I rely on body language, facial expressions and one-side cell phone conversations to put the puzzle pieces together.

Project deadlines, money worries, sweet reflections on the previous evening's lovemaking - all these thoughts I pick up from my fellow city dwellers. For a moment, it comforts me, knowing we all have our hang-ups, our dreams, our fears and a life filled mostly with minutia.

It never fails to help me face another day.


Jeff Mather said...

This is fabulous. G-d, I miss working in the city!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you might *not* be moving away after all. Or at least postponing it a bit. You were supposed to move soon, yes? It doesn't sound like the person who wrote this post is wanting to move at all.