Monday, July 16, 2012


I sat on the cold wooden seat of my high-backed stool, my back straining slightly to keep me sitting up after the many loads of bread I carried from the truck across the street to the table beneath the shade of a palm tree.  There were other vendors all around in the park, each hoping for sales and a few goodies to fill their belly at lunch.  On display were varieties of tofu, French savory pies, elegant chocolates filled with the best fruits and cremes. There were dozens of people walking by, some holding tighter to their purses than others. It was a park transformed into a marketplace with samples and delectables, all surrounded by the smell of fresh roasted coffee beans.
For a moment it all felt very cluttered to me- different fabrics, sounds, so much movement and thoughts- I took a long breath and focused my attention. And as that strong moment of attention filled me, I looked from person to person, giving each a few seconds of attention: the bleach-blond rockabilly laughing, the Afghan guy smiling as he took a five dollar bill, his associate smiling as well, bringing his hand to his chest while referring to himself in conversation. A potential customer looking at her cell phone, a small boy eating a pretzel. 
All sound seemed to cease.  I saw each gesture as a manifestation of a deep habit.  Every smile and laugh, every movement and step. It was all habitual and mechanical.   
Each one.
Every one.
And as I turned from one person to the other and saw each manifestation, I felt apart from them, blocked from them by a bit of gray air around me that separated us.
For a moment, I thought they could sense my difference. I didn’t feel the attention of one person, but I felt as if they knew I was different. 
Could they possibly know?  Detached perception turned slightly cold in me as I began to fear them slightly, as I worried they would perceive me as other, as strange.