Writer’s Workshop: Pay attention to a stranger you meet this week or observe and write about them.
One of the first observations I made upon moving with my boy and Miss Bianx to the big city of New York was the STRANGERS! EVERYWHERE! Now you would think that moving from one largely populated area of the country (Southern California) to another (Manhattan), this would not feel like much of a culture shock. But in reality, it was a jolt of tsunami sized proportions. In a matter of days we went from the land of frozen yogurt and palm trees to one of the world’s most diverse melting pots of humanity. And seeing as I loathe using ridiculous phrases like “melting pot” you know it must be serious for me to stoop so low in my normally overly loquacious arsenal of descriptors.
So. Here I am in the big city, feeling like a toothless yokel from the backwoods of Who Knows Where with my eyes opened to all of the colorful people types that roam these busy streets, participating in things like the Dominican Republic Pride On Display parade where 200,000 people wear their country’s flag as capes while they run up and down 6th Avenue with fog horns and whistles. And I am amazed and just how different we all are. Isn’t it fantastic?
And in all of the city that I have explored to date, there is no better place to truly taste these strangers I have as neighbors as on the subway. While commuting to and from work each day, I am able to sit back with my iPod headphones in place playing the background music to my life and I watch (and many times smell) life around me. Have I mentioned lately the way the city tends to smell like hot garbage and urine during the summer months? It is truly an extraordinary experience, I promise.
In any event, this evening was like many others. I jostled my way onto a train car after sweating in the warm abyss of the subway tunnel for a bit. I settled myself against the doors – and yes, I know the signs say not to lean against the doors. I have to break the rules sometimes, just to feel alive. Edgy, I know. As the train rolled into motion I began to watch the people around me, wondering who would catch my attention tonight. And then I saw him. He was a small man, with an extremely lean stature, wearing an over-sized starched white t-shirt and baggy jean shorts riding low above his high top Michael Jordan’s from the late 1990′s. His long, dark hair was tied back in a scrunchy. In his hands, he carried the following: A bag of garbage. A nice bottle of wine. And a gerbil cage, complete with water bottle and running wheel.
For some reason, I found myself stuck on the gerbil cage. Ok, and the scrunchy. And it was all I could do not to follow him home to see what it was all about.