Sometimes I wonder about the random people walking down the street. You can see it all on a DC street –same as you would in any other city in the world, but this happens to be the city where I find myself slowly grinding along forward traversing Massachusetts Avenue on my way to seeing a friend.
There are heavy people and light people and short and tall people, all walking down the street obediently, as if the only thing that could ever guide their movement were the pixelated lines of the little "Walk" man. Sometimes I see a girl crying or a man nodding absentmindledly into his cellphone — two versions of the "Please, now, anywhere else but here" variety of sorrow. Business pinstripes and homeless rags stand toe to toe but miles away from one another. Mothers push humble no-name strollers next to fancy, tricked-out Bugaboos, and a few feet behind a coterie of nannies smile guardedly. Lunch trucks park and delivery trucks make perilous right turns. Taxis weave in and out of traffic like angry hornets, vying for the next bit of asphalt under their tires as if it were going to disappear from under them.
So much sorrow and so much humanity, covered by a fine layer of particulate soot and waiting to cross the street. To eat, to talk. To eat, perchance to flirt.
Today the landscape looks a little different because of all the half-mast flags dotting the flagpoles. No one looks up; they all look ahead, trying to evade the bus or the filthy cart or the cop –flashing the ski rack ominously but obviously not paying attention to the long line of people who are not merging in a civilized manner.
We’re all in our little bubbles of thought and wishing to keep a distance through our iPods and our cell phones or perhaps through our sheer scowling attitudes. But then we all go through our rituals — walk to our metro station or purchase our groceries at a certain place and time. We get our little lunches or our large lunches and hope that sometime someone will remember how we like our sandwich. We become regulars — we long for a little warmth and recognition and a spot we can call our own under the hazy sun. We long to connect, even if it is to complain about the traffic or the weather –both things we know are an extension of our own crazy human mayhem and selfish ways, but which we pretend are beyond our control.
The car moves forward and the neighborhoods change, but they are part of the same angry, flashing grid that tries to find itself and tries to belong.
We all try to belong.