the illusory being

Author: angiem, 04 24th, 2009

I was sitting in a cafe recently and surreptitiously - I love fancy words! - watching two women at another table while pretending to keep an eye on my daughter as she ran around and navigated the closely set tables and uneven natural stone floor.  The older of the two, an apparently well to do, and well coifed fifty something year old was doing all the talking.  She was gesticulating and pointing at a small photo album while the much younger other woman appeared unconvinced.

Were they mother and daughter, friends, coworkers?  And what were they so intent about?

A perpetual fascination of mine is observing others and imagining their lives or conversations.  I’m so entranced about all the possibilities of what goes on behind the scenes.  The story behind the story.  The reasons why we put so much (or so little) into our public appearances; the versions of truth we choose to show and to share.

There is a certain couple in my parents’ neighborhood which without fail brings out the curiosity in me.  For the last twenty years I see them out and about every single time I go there.  They appear to be in their late sixties, European, and incessantly talking.  What is there to talk about after so many years?  I wish I knew.  And I wish I could ask them.

Usually they wear matching beige jackets and baseball caps and the husband always walks on the outside of the sidewalk, even if a step ahead.  I saw them one day while finishing my shopping at Safeway, and shamelessly followed them around trying to eavesdrop on their conversation.  If, however, I was lacking in manners, they weren’t.  Their voices were too low for me to make out what they were saying.

In A Changed Man, Francine Prose says: “Every human born into this world is a blank slate on which a life will be inscribed.” I suppose that what captivates me about the presumed lives of others is the possibilities of all those inscriptions.


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3 Responses to “the illusory being”

  1. Dana Says:

    My dear, you SERIOUSLY should consider writing a novel or if that is too daunting, perhaps a compilation of short stories??? I loved reading this article and found myself NOT wanting it to end… THAT is always a sign of a good writer. KUDOS!

  2. Bobi Says:

    I really enjoyed this and the quote at the end is very thought provoking especially if you are a parent… It makes you realize how much impact you can have on what is inscribed on your childs life.

  3. Ani Says:

    Nice piece… It reminds me of me slowing down when I drive by a nice house in the neighborhood as night falls. I imagine the conversations and the atmosphere in the home as the lights shine on the activity of the home.

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