Eyes Wide Open
Today, I noticed a lot of things.
I take the same route, more or less, from home to work to home again every weekday. I go on autopilot. More often than not, I have headphones in, am deep in the labyrinth of my thoughts, and paying zero attention to where I’m going. Whatever automatic safety system I have inside me keeps me from falling down stairs or getting hit by a car, and I barely have to think about it, and suddenly I’m home.
After work this evening, a coworker was headed my way, so we took the train together and we were chatting. I ended up getting really overheated (the crowded train car was blasting hot air and I was bundled up for the below-zero windchill) which tends to made me dizzy. After my coworker got off the train, my body went into full-on shut-down mode. When I get dizzy and nauseous like that, as weird as it sounds, I have to focus on reality. I have to keep myself acutely aware of the physical world. It’s like mind over matter. If I can concentrate on the way the subway pole feels under my hand, the socks on my feet, the ad on the wall, I can usually win the fight against the blackness that comes with losing consciousness.
As soon as I exited the subway car at my stop, the relative coolness of the subway platform almost immediately revived me. When I stepped above ground, the cold wind whipped away the last of my unease. But the acute awareness was still with me.
So today, I noticed a lot of things. Things I had never noticed before, things I might not have noticed on another day.
I saw a woman using a payphone. Which is weird enough, since who even does that anymore, but weirder still was that I had never seen that payphone before. It wasn’t a big tall booth like they usually are in the city, it was just a little phone on a pole, maybe five feet tall. On a corner I walk by every time I leave the apartment. That I had never seen before. Blew my mind.
I noticed that the Christmas decorations that hang between the telephone wires on my street are still up.
I saw a man open one of those newspaper dispensers and pull a large shopping bag out of it. Either he had put it there for safekeeping or there was some kind of shady deal going on. He removed it and walked on in a fluid motion, I really don’t think I would have noticed if my senses weren’t on high alert.
I realized that there’s a bank three blocks away from my apartment. If you had asked me where the nearest bank was, I would have sent you to the intersection five blocks away. Hopefully you would have been more observant than me and seen the bright orange ATM vestibule on your way. (In my defense, it’s like Alma bank or something I’ve never heard of. Okay, that’s not much of a defense.)
While I was getting my mail, I noticed that the people in Apartment 5 have the same last name. I would imagine they’re sisters, since I saw a girl getting the mail/going into that apartment once, and she looked rather young to be married. But who knows, maybe it’s just a youthful lesbian couple.
All of these things are totally random and knowing them won’t actually have an effect on my life whatsoever, but it was…well, eye-opening, for back of a letter word. How many other things am I missing because I’m zoning out while I walk? Should I be paying more attention, or are these things just a waste of brainspace? Has that mini payphone really always been there? And what on EARTH was in that man’s bag?