Saturday, February 9, 2008

Curiousity almost killed me

For the last three days in a row, i have been able to see my neighbour, in his house, through one of my windows and into his. Each time, i have stopped briefly, 10 seconds here, 30 seconds there, and watched, wondering what he was doing.Its not that i'm a stalker, or a peeping Tom, but rather an observer by nature. And, of all in nature, i find human beings the most fascinating subject to observe.

I ama people-watcher. I will find myself, at random points almost everyday, momentarily watching someone and wondering who they are, where they're going, what they are doing and even what are they thinking. I wonder if anyone is watching me and doing the same. It amuses me that as i take 30 seconds to watch someone climb out of a taxi, adjust her dress strap, and saunter off into the shopping centre, that someone else maybe 6 feet away is watching me brushing the hair back behind my ear, chewing on my lip and tilting my head ever so slightly. Its like a great big circle of human observance.

Like i said, i'm no stalker - i'm not obsessed with knowing the intimate details of peoples lives - but rather in imagining them, in taking in what i see and guessing at the rest. Its a form of fantasy i suppose, being able to invent a fairytale story for the life of any random person. I watch old women and wonder at what they were like when they were young - were they glamorous 1940's bombshells like Bette Davis, captivating men everywhere and ultimately leaving so many of them broken hearted ? Or was she more a decent, hard-working, girl-next-door type who stole the heart of some young soldier and then pined for him while he was at war ? How many children did she have ? Did she burn her bra in the 70's or subscribe to her mothers notion of womanhood ? None of it is particularly important to me, after all, i dont know them - but i love the notion that everyone, anyone, around me has their own made-for-tv movie life story.

I wonder about what stories people imagine for me, and how far removed from the truth they really are. Do they see me at the pub, like tonight for example, in a slinky dress, cleavage, hair straightened, and call me a slut ? Do they call me a try-hard and think i've put too much effort into trying to look good, just for the local pub/club ? Do they see that as being insecure, or do they imagine me to be supremely confident because i walk through the crowd with my shoulders back, chest out, perfect posture ? Do they think i have a boyfriend in there somewhere, or waiting at home, or do they imagine i'm out on the prowl ? Do the older people who see me at work with my hair pulled back, glasses on, running an optometry practice see me as studious and serious and professional, and do the young people just see me as nerdy or intimidating even ? I would love to be able to read people's mind and see the impressions i make on them.

I must admit to stealing glances of people, especially on public transport, and inventing entire scenarios for why they are there. Or sitting in a park in New York City, literally thousands of people streaming by, and imagining full and satisying lives for all of them. I think its normal to do that, curiosity is second nature to us all, but i dont think its entirely healthy. At some points during my life my curiousity and imagination have run away with me to the point where imagining other peoples lives, thoughts, opinions, view points and stories has become more important than living and telling my own.

I see that now - perhaps that is my most profound observation yet....

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