“I wish people watching was as socially acceptable here as it is in Europe,” she said.
I rolled over from the blanket upon the grass and squinted from the sudden brightness of the sun. “What do you mean?”
She sat up on her elbows and flipped her hair. She tilted her sunglasses down so that I could see her deep brown eyes, darker than the patches of soil exposed in the grass. “People in Europe think people-watching is normal. They do it all the time. But here, people think you’re weird for staring at them. I’m not really staring at them, I’m just trying to get to know them from afar.”
“It’s like you’re trying to learn their story without really knowing anything about them?” I asked.
“Yeah.” She flipped over on her back, exposing her soft body on her homemade violet blanket. “Like, those people over there.”
She pointed her pale, slightly sun burnt hand toward a young couple about twenty meters ahead of us, a tall, lanky white man and a shorter, thin Asian girl. They were sitting back to back, supporting each other with a blanket underneath them, each enthralled in their own textbook. They spoke no words or turned to look at each other.
I turned my neck discreetly, as to not expose the fact that I was spying on the young couple from afar. “You mean them?”
“Yeah,” she said with a high inflection in her voice. “I mean, are they friends? Are they lovers? Are they former lovers who are now friends? Are they friends who want to be lovers?”
I chuckled under my breath. “Hell if I know.”
“Exactly!” She shot straight up. She was now sitting face to face with me, her hands resting in her crossed legs covered by her flowing yellow skirt. “We may never know. All we know is what we can learn from them, and what we learn from them, we take and make up something in our heads! That’s totally fine in Europe! But in America, people think you’re a creep for trying to figure our their story.”
“Not to mention staring at them for long periods of time.”
“Well, I’m not staring to stare. I’m staring to figure out their story.”
I laughed subtly. “What do you think people think our story is?”
She placed herself facedown upon the blanket again. “What do you want it to be?”
I was shocked by the question, then realized that it was totally appropriate for the circumstance.
We had met not two hours before, and thus had yet to create our story.
* * * * *
The day began earlier than usual on that Saturday afternoon. The sun beamed through my window, warming that empty spot on my all-too-large bed. The beams warmed my skin slightly, and the light kept past my eyelids, which I was forcibly keeping closed.
“It’s too early to be awake on a Saturday,” I mumbled to myself. I found myself talking to no one in particular in those days. I would come home from work to my empty apartment, make dinner, read a little, do some writing, go out for a quiet cup of coffee, if I was so daring. Not saying much of a word to anyone else. The silence drove me crazy, so I began to strike up conversations with the only person around – Myself.
I looked over at my alarm clock perched upon my dresser: 9:14. “This is too damn early. Normal people sleep in ‘til noon on Saturday.” My body was used to being up around 7:30 every morning for work at Lamphard Publishing Company. It was not what I thought it would be: Authors patrolling the halls, poets diligently editing their masterpieces in desks, all of that. As a Junior Editor for this miniscule company, I was lucky if a menu from a Thai restaurant came across my desk for editing. That was partially why I wanted to stay in bed.
I tried to force my eyes closed again, but to no avail. I finally threw my covers off of my bed and muttered an expletive or two under my breath. I grabbed a fresh pair of boxers from a dwindling drawer (I skipped my last laundry day for the sake of breaking monotony, and now it was coming back in the form of having almost no clean underwear) and hopped in the shower. After a battle with the showerhead to give me a good, hard shower, I hopped out, brushed my teeth and neglected to shave, as I was not going anywhere or doing anything exciting enough to look my best.
I decided to treat myself by making a mushroom and Swiss omelet. I usually skipped breakfast, but I decided to break the monotony again by indulging myself. Still in my boxers, I walked to my tiny kitchen, nothing to be exuberant about. I pulled out everything I needed: A pan, a fork, spatula, bowl, salt, a can of mushrooms. All I needed was eggs, butter, and cheese. I walked to the refrigerator, opened the door, and began to curse loudly at the sight.
“Dammit! Where the fuck did all my eggs go?”
Not remembering that I had boiled all of the eggs I had to take to work for lunch, I began to search my refrigerator frantically, but found nothing. After debating whether or not it was worth it to go out and buy some more eggs, I decided it was because I now had the brilliant idea of boiling the leftovers and taking them to work for lunch.
I ran into my bedroom and threw on a pair of jeans and a black sweater, and capped it off with a pair of black flip-flops. It looked rather warm, but the wind was something of a concern. I ran outside.
The sun was bright, or perhaps my eyes had yet to adjust to the light. I immediately realized that I had forgotten my sunglasses. The start of another amazing day in the city.