16 October 2008

A derth

Normally, I have no trouble a'tall coming up with things to write about.  Lately, though, I've got no inspiration.  

Maybe that's not quite the word I'm searching for.  I have inspirations, they just don't get written down, and then when I sit down in front of the computer, there's a giant blank in my head.  I'm spending almost no time in front of the computer at home in the evenings, which is when I've done my writing for years now, so not much gets done.

I'm tired.  Not depressed-tired, thankfully.  Bone-weary tired.  And I don't even have kids!  On evenings when I'm able, I've been heading to bed around 8 pm, which is early, even for me.  There are weeks where I've got something going on every night after work, and then the 8 pm bedtime slips later, sometimes until 11.  Then, I'm exhausted for the next several days.  I'm getting more sleep than I have for years....last night, somewhere around 7 hours.  Uninterrupted sleep is something I've not gotten since I was a teen, and I dream of a day when I get more than 3 hours of sleep at a stretch, but I'll take the 7 hours, happily.  And yet, I'm still tired.  I find that utterly mystifying.

I saw something I wanted to write about the other day, and the image keeps haunting me, so I'm going to take a stab at it.

I get to spend some time on a college campus, and I treasure that time, mostly.  People-watching is perhaps my favorite sport in the whole world.  Since I was a very young child, I've made up stories about the things I see, chance interactions between people that are completely out of context for me.  I never know these people, and I'm possibly reading more or less into the interactions I see.  But that is part of the fun, if you ask me.  Students entertain me a lot.  Drama, drama, and more drama envelop their daily lives, hormones and emotions running so high.  I remember well that time in my own life, when everything was both fantastic and catastrophic all at once.  Students annoy me too, I want to bemoan their lack of courtesy, not holding a door open for someone behind them, or purposefully blocking a hallway, or being overly loud when it is completely unnecessary.

Like every other season all year long, fall is unpredictable in Oh-hia-ia.  We can have beautiful days where the temperature hovers just below 70 (~19 or 20 C) with very low humidity, not a cloud in the perfectly autumnal blue sky, or we have days where it is dark, grey, overcast, 40 (4C), and raining.  I treasure those beautiful fall days, when there is a crisp chill in the early mornings, and the leaves are their riot of fall color, scarlet, orange, yellow.  You learn to dress in layers, because while the morning is chilly, by the time you're heading home it is too warm for jackets and long sleeves.

Late one afternoon, I saw two students standing right in the middle of a sidewalk, embracing one another.  They were polar opposites; the girl was short, chubby, cherubic cheeks, blonde, dressed in jeans an a dark long-sleeved shirt, colors so muddy that they might have blended into the background.  The boy was tall and skinny, dark curly hair, dressed in the colors of the Ohio State University, scarlet and grey, shorts and a t-shirt.

He was cradling her, so gently, rocking back and forth a little.  I wasn't close enough to hear them, so I imagined that he was comforting her after a difficult test, or just a rough day.  They pulled apart, still holding on to one another, and he said something to her.  She nodded, and he pulled her close again, and I was reminded of the way we comfort one another at funerals, when words are incredibly useless and we feel so helpless.

I watched as they stepped back from one another and walked away from me, down the sidewalk.  They walked close to one another, but not touching, not holding hands, which is why I assumed that they weren't lovers, the body language hadn't indicated to me that they were anything more than good friends.  

I've been haunted by that simple image of kindness for almost a week now, it pops into my head from time to time.  I wonder; were they friends who hadn't seen one another for a long time?  Were they a couple, and breaking up?  Or was I right, she just had a hard day?  

Why do I keep thinking of those two?  It was a mystery to me for a couple of days, but then I realized that I was so moved by what I saw for two reasons.  One, it was an incredibly intimate moment, a private moment.  They had no idea I was watching.  I hasten to add that it was not with malicious intent that I watched, just idly curious.  Two, you don't often see such kindness on display.  

How sad.

So I challenge you.  Do something extraordinarly kind.  For a stranger, for someone you love, for a friend.


John said...

Potent. Thanks for sharing. I too am an unrepentant people watcher. I am often amazed by the stories that are told through the simple interactions that take place. I often tell the flock I shepherd that people are watching...always.

As for the other issue you raise, this is simply the tired season. The exuberance of summer winding down toward the long slumber of winter. Not quite sure what to do with all that additional foliage we've managed to collect in our lives. There was a time that our lives moved more in concert with the seasons. We do well to remember.



Lucy Arin said...

Thanks, John!