Whenever possible, I always try to sit in the window.
At cafes, where I write the pages of this blog while sipping coffee and attempting to avoid the cupcake whispering my name; in my apartment, which is small in stature, but wide in window seats; and when having dinner with a friend or treating myself to a table-for-one, and I want to enjoy the city’s energy, while staying warm.
There’s something about watching the world outside, while being part of a different world, your own little universe, that’s wildly inspiring. From where I sit in the indoors and where the traffic and footsteps move in a syncing pace, only a piece of glass separates us – and yet most of the time, I can’t hear exactly what’s going on, what’s being said, or what Manhattan’s streets are creating.
And so, I make up my own version.
The couple with nearly matching outfits, walking step-for-step, smile-by-smile seem like they just reached the point in their relationship (or non-relationship) where they are comfortable being themselves with one another. The older lady in the red coat with a lapel and her companion, who is sporting a cane and heels (an oxymoron maybe?), have been friends for nearly thirty years and still enjoy a buttered roll and hot tea from the same diner they visit every Sunday morning, without fail. And the early-twenties girl who dressed too warmly for the end-of-winter front that won’t subside to the back, looks sad because in a place with thousands of eligible bachelors, the one she wanted didn’t desire her in return.
My speculations of what they’re lives are like or where they’ve come from or where they’re going or who they’ve loving or attempting to forget are merely fictional – but in the spirit of people watching, without imagination, why would the sport be entertaining in the first place?
The only trouble with observing people and making them into characters is when you start to believe your make-believe is a reality. Or when, for whatever reason, we become jealous of those we don’t know because we project an idea of what they’re life must be like, even though we don’t have the slightest inclination.
Yesterday, as New York was in between teasing me with Spring (yet again) and reminding me the winds of winter are still here, I decided to face the city head-on and walk through midtown. Along my path, I passed dozens upon dozens of couples – something that is quite common here. They could be tourists or natives, a mixture of both, and throughout a wide range of ages. I used to witness the duos and find myself creating these romantic worlds that I knew they must live in – far away countries I never visited or if I did, my Visa was revoked as quickly as it was passed through customs. I was always a traveler in the land of love, never a citizen. So these lovebirds, whoever they were, had something I wanted – something I longed for, and something I knew I needed.
From the outside, protected from any harsh reality of what is hidden behind closed doors and closed hearts, every relationship, every couple prancing hand-in-hand, every stolen kiss on the elevator at Macy’s or uninhibited laughter on Seventh Avenue – seems like the making of love. Or rather, just a reminder of the love I’m not in, the comfort I don’t have the pleasure of depending on, or the man I have yet to meet.
However – with the wind twirling my unwashed hair in all sorts of directions and walking next to a man who quite possibly makes me incredibly happy and ridiculously confused at the same time, it occurred to me that I no longer find myself envious of couples, but rather empathetic.
If you’re not part of a relationship, if you’re not one of the two who makes the couple a pair – you don’t know what it feels like. You may have a window, but you’ll never be invited inside. You could read a love (or hate) story about how he met her or she fell out of love with him – but you’ll never know the root of anything or if their bliss, which seems so enticing, is a show they debut for the world or truly how they feel.
I mean, how many men have I been in public with, without declaring our relationship (or could-be union) to the public?
Unless you’re thirteen, holding hand doesn’t signify fidelity. Shopping for household appliances or furniture is a way to pass an afternoon, but doesn’t dictate the seriousness of a relationship. Romancing in the streets doesn’t determine if there is a true romance, a true passionate connection in places that aren’t quite as public. Maybe being a recovering “love addict” makes you realize that relationships are never what they seem. And happiness doesn’t necessarily equate to love.
Because sometimes, the very person you are wishing you could be, staring outside into the window of misconception of the life they display to the masses, is the same person peering back at you dreaming they had the life you seem to have, sipping your coffee, and typing away, alone and seemingly, happily, single.