I noticed you because I was trying so hard not to notice anybody... trying so hard not to make eye contact with anyone, that I was watching everyone's feet. I gazed from foot to foot, examining shoes in that objectifying practice that helps me to exist in this city full of constant human contact. I was trying to analyze the human attached to each pair of shoes-- figure out where they were going and what they were like.
Your feet were so tiny, but so adult that my gaze wandered upward where I was confronted with what I thought was a scowl. It was so harsh and so angry, I quickly looked away.
I tried to continue to examine the rest of the shoes for the next 20 minutes, but I could not resist turning my glance to your mouth over and over in split-second attempts to understand. I kept thinking you were mad at me... that you knew something I did not, and that your scowl had my name written underneath in a secret code...
But then I saw it-- you chewing on your lip. Your scowl suddenly transformed and I knew you more than my sister, or my mother, or my best friend. I knew you and your frustration. I knew exactly where you were, even though the details eluded me. I looked around and realized how many of us wore this mask on the Q train from Union Square to Brooklyn on a Friday Afternoon in October.... how many of us were consumed with thoughts of financial struggle, relationship problems, health concerns, or responsibility woes.
In that moment, I knew we were all one, yet all single entities, singularly gazing at each other's shoes alone on the Q train to Brooklyn.