|Still life, Kitchen. 15 April 2012.|
When I was in high school, I ate lunch with the same friends, at the same table every day. One day I said aloud to my friends, “Isn’t it funny how we do this every day? How did this happen?” The act of school lunch suddenly seemed illogical. In a moment, my mind thin sliced each component of the situation: Bland food. Restrictive plastic trays. Weird Tables. Cinder block walls. Time constraints. It felt necessary to question, if only for a moment, to wonder how?
My friends made fun of me for years for asking that question. Of course, there was no right or wrong answer — I was looking for a reaction, that someone else, too, felt that this instance was a tangent of natural life. It became clear that day, and everything felt so unusual. People eating the exact same cafeteria foods, on the same narrow benches, during the same 30-minute time slot, five days a week. We’d all been doing it for so long, that no one took a moment to recognize what was happening. What was happening?
This feeling — this dissection of particular gatherings — comes increasingly often. On the train, or in any public space, there is an abundance of constituents to each situation that it’s hard to ignore being amongst them. Bells. Taxis. Sirens. The lines of a crosswalk, then peo p le crossingthec ros s wa lk. The smell of food. Tourists taking pictures. Crying children. Storefronts. Garbage. Bodily fluids. Limousines. LCDs. Cupcakes! The scene spins. Life moves, constituted of the events and ideas orbiting around a person at any given time, external and internal, however they choose to permit effect. I can’t help but notice that the hundreds, if not thousands, of people I cross every day are affecting me.
Isn’t it funny how we are all living on this peninsula? How did this happen?
With a burst of realization, I understand what’s happening. Every race. Every language. Everything. Everywhere. How did this happen? I decide I don’t understand what’s happening. I jump on the train home. Music, silence, two strangers on either side, hips pressed to mine, and the da-da-da-da-da-da on the tracks as I ride over the river in a great steel box, onward, every day, onward.