Friday, November 22, 2013

that sky glowed all calico like phosphor in the sea

You haven't lived until you've had red wine from a tin cup by a campfire in an unseasonably warm November.

My favorite time on earth is the hour before everyone else wakes up on a camping trip.

I'm physically incapable of sleeping in, no matter what sort of night I had and camping trips are no exception. I tiptoe around, quietly hunting through bags to find coffee (usually waking people up in the process).

And then I sit. I know I'm not truly alone—surrounded by sleeping friends tucked into tents all around me—but I'm completely at peace, my mind finally at rest with no plans, no mental to do list prompting me to action.

A few days ago as I was standing on the metro escalator trying to finish a page, a woman barreled past me and knocked my gym bag off my shoulder. I balked at her silently as she turned—not to apologize, but to tell me I was taking up too much room with my bag (well, duh) and that she was in a hurry. I told her to have a good day as she flipped me off. My headphones were still in so I couldn't make out what she was saying anymore, but I could see she was angry and kept making a point to call back and shout things at me as she ran to the platform.

I put my nose back in my book and slowly reached the platform just as the train arrived... and we both got on.

How embarrassing for her. I thought to myself: What a horrible day she must be having. And how sad to walk around having outbursts at strangers.

I think the anonymity of cities makes these sorts of angry encounters acceptable and common—because we'd never talk that way to someone we actually knew.

But why does it seem everyone is walking around, seconds from exploding because the turnstile didn't open right away or Biden is going to the White House so we can't get to lunch on time.

I saw myself turning into that sort of person once and I didn't like it.

A lot of my time here is spent walking, surrounded by strangers (it's my primary mode of transportation) and it's so much happier when I make a point to be present for it and be kind.

Life isn't just the times with friends, the events, the holidays—it's those anonymous moments when you hold a door for a mom with a stroller or run after someone who dropped their Smarttrip. Life is a few hours spent alone, hunched over weeds in your front planter, not looking at your phone, letting dirt set in deep into your cuticles.

Pull out your earbuds. Enjoy those moments. They add up. And they matter.