Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Our own little bubbles

October is just around the corner. The maples are turning red. I noticed a woman stopping by the side of the road to admire the hues and to stoop down -- despite carrying a hefty load in her arms -- to pick up a delicate little leaf. And there I was, admiring the same autumnal colours, and admiring the woman for taking the time to notice, and admiring the world for creating such a perfect moment.

In my myriad of trips on the buses and Skytrain these past few weeks, I've had the pleasure of people-watching. Something about the anonymity of the city makes it easy but not quite acceptable to look long and hard at strangers. It seems as though everyone is so preoccupied by his/her own internal dialogue that no one actually notices others. It is as though we all exist in separate bubbles, all floating through the daily city bustle, and only occasionally, when our bubbles bump against each other and burst, do we realize that we aren't alone. And then, when we make eye contact, we just end up shocked, or embarrassed, or both.

There are several strangers that I see time and time again. We haven't ever talked or acknowledged each other, yet I feel as though I know something about them. There is a young woman who is always so smartly dressed, exuding New York chic. Yet nothing about her is pretentious, as though elegance is an inborn trait. When everyone else is eager to get onto the next available Skytrain, tired after a day's work, steps heavy and shoulders slightly hunched, this young woman stands cool and composed, never rushing ahead with the masses. Today, I saw her with two heavy volumes tucked under one arm: On one spine, it read, "Conditioning for Dancers." My mind went, Aha! It was like the confirmation of something I had known all along. There are numerous others whom I encounter on my daily journeys: An old man whose eyes twinkle at the sight of young children with their mothers, the wheelchair-bound man with beautiful wizened white hair who smiles freely at others, and the transit staff who helps him find space in the packed train-cars every afternoon.

All those little glimpses into the lives of others allow me to feel all right about being in the city, to float among strangers. I live for the moments when our bubbles collide and burst. 


  1. It's been a long time since I've left a comment, but I haven't stopped checking your blog!!!! I'm glad you left the north, although I really enjoyed your posts about Inuvik.

  2. omg that is like a poem or it would be a great song. your ability to capture the mundane and make it poetic is amazing! Thank you.