I'm a rebel.
It's April 2012 and I still don't have a smart phone. My iPod is limping along, barely, despite being told by the Apple Genius guys it needs to be replaced. Yes, I have a Kindle, but my laptop is in its death throes. (I predict this will be the expensive year of replacing techno-gadgets for me.)
All that means, when I'm out and about in the city, standing in line, waiting here or there, or riding public transit, I'm not occupied by technology.
So instead, I do what I've spent a lifetime doing. I watch and I wonder.
And there's something about public transit that reveals the most vulnerable sides of people when they think they're at their most guarded.
To the casual observer or the quickest glimpse, it's hard to see the vulnerable side. But when you watch, really watch, you see the genuine smiles instead of the fake ones, the choked back tears, the giggles of someone newly in love, or the anguish of someone recently heartbroken, the quiet courage or the quiet desperation. You see new love, old love, ending love.
And then I wonder. What brought them here? To this moment? To the person they are today? Where are they going? What does life hold for them?
Often, I catch myself imagining their stories for them.
"It's 2:27 on a Tuesday. He's just left a business meeting and is late to a job interview that would give him a big enough pay bump to finally propose to his girl."
"She just traveled to Chicago from rural Minnesota. She doesn't know what she wants yet, just that it can't be found in Minnesota. She's unaware, but she'll learn to be more guarded when someone swipes her iPhone at the next station."
"They were high school sweethearts. They've weathered love and loss and heartbreak and good days and mundane days and the bad. She's losing her memory, he's losing his health. Yet, the one happiness that they still share is holding hands on their way to yet another doctor's appointment."
And if I'm not careful, I'm the girl rushing to get off at the very last second because I was so busy watching and wondering that I almost missed my stop.