People Watcher

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May 20, 2013 by travelinggrits

I hereby make a proclamation of eccentricity.

I am more than a “people watcher.”

I am a master of mental metamorphosis.

I enjoy riding buses, strolling through parks and lounging in libraries to observe the masses: their attire, their banter with friends and their impatient tics. My inquisitive gaze evades notice from most, but when caught by a subject of examination I give a serene smile and slide my eyes away.

But I’m not just watching their here and now.

Sometimes my eyes unfocus, and I see adults as their younger selves, the creases smoothed from their faces, hair glossy, cheeks bright. Likewise, children’s countenances thin out into their teenage equivalents, adorned with sophisticated daubs of makeup and the yearnings of adolescence. Sometimes I imagine anyone as they would look while sleeping, cheek pressed against a pillow, eyes closed, with a flat, peaceful expression wiping away any anger or worry.

I did this sometimes as a student while staring at the instructor lecturing before me. It gave me a sense of familiarity with them, as if we were bosom friends that had seen each other grow up.

Here, I feel like so much more of an anomaly, the only blue-eyed, curly-haired brunette in a sea of dark-haired heads. When passersby steal glances, do they do the same with me?  Does my neutral expression appear angry? Does my smile look clownish and embarrassed? Do they try to picture my parents? I’ve been told I resemble everyone from Brooke Shields to Angelina Jolie to Amanda Seyfried — ridiculous stretches of the imagination, in my opinion.

When my foreign speech turns to daydream jibberish drifting over the heads of my students, what do they see? 

 

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