Waking up in a new city is a great feeling.
No matter how late I go to bed, or how bad the jetlag is, when I am in a brand new place, I always wake up really early the first morning. Just to listen to the neighbourhood starting the day. It is by far the best way to get the pace of my temporary world.
Sitting cross-legged at the patio table, I warm my fingers on the warm cup of black coffee before me. Victor is lying on the windowsill, patienty licking his front paws. We look at each other, in silence, while the surrounding open windows allow us to hear our neighbours having breakfast.
I think about the young woman that sat in front of me, in the subway, the night before. As soon as I took the seat facing hers, I felt something was wrong. The young lady looked great in her pink puffy coat, but she seemed troubled. I guess she felt my staring, because her eyes briefly met mine, and she teared up.
So much pain. So much silent pain traveling underground, in the middle of an oblivious crowd. If her big brown eyes had a voice, they would have been screaming. But there she sat, looking up, trying to stop the tears from rolling on her cheeks. Discreetly, she brushed her pink sleeve across her eyes.
People like her are one of the reasons I am sitting here, smoking a cigarette, sipping on my cooling coffee, staring at Victor in the neighbours morning routine background noises. Because as much as my own life sucks right now, I just know how much others suffer around me. And not just those who easily verbalize it.
I see pain everywhere. In the bus driver’s empty stare. In the waitress’ fake smile as she puts my plate on the table. For some reason, the place where I find it the easiest to observe latent distress is on the subway. Maybe because people just feel anonymous in a crowd. They don’t have to pretend. At least they think they don’t.
Looking at the lady in pink, yesterday, I just wanted to walk over and hug her. But as much as I felt she needed it, I knew it was a silly thought. Strangers just don’t step into each other’s bubble just like that. Not in our individualistic society.
At the next station, when the doors opened, she got up, stuck her purse under her arm and left the wagon.
And my life.
I hope she is doing well today. I hope she woke up, took a long shower, had breakfast and is now on her way to work. I hope she is smiling on the subway this morning…
I wonder if others have seen my pain. Is there one soul out there hoping I am doing better?
I find myself peeking at the second floor window again. The white curtains are closed and I wonder what is going on behind them. Did you see me crying yesterday night? Have you given a look down while I was lost in my morning thoughts? Do you wonder? Do you care?
Probably not, but the idea that you could makes me smile.
Victor jumps down the windowsill and runs to the neighbour’s door to be let in. It seems like our little rendez-vous is over.
Fair enough mister Victor, I have a city to discover anyway. I just need to pack up a couple of things, grab my scarf and coat, and I’ll be on my way out.
Paris, me voilà!