I don’t remember her source, but a classmate once told me it takes about 2.5 years to cross the threshold toward feeling settled in a new place. She’s already lived in many places, so I trusted what she said. But I shook it off at the time. I wouldn’t be here that long anyway.
She was right, I guess. Rapidly approaching the three-year mark, lately I’ve been noticing that things do feel different. Maybe it’s the job and a second family of sorts. Or maybe it’s not being so/as lost in conversation. Probably it has a bit to do with Karl and I having a place of our own. But the main force, I believe, is seeing other people.
No, not in the way associated with Swedish sexual liberation. Not like that.
You all know by now that I have a thing for faces and seeing them everywhere. Now in Sweden it’s finally come to pass that I see faces I recognize, people I know. There goes an art director on her bicycle. There’s a web guy standing outside the gallery. There’s my old professor who gave me that questionable grade. There’s Karl’s little brother waiting for bus No. 5. There’s my best friend’s girlfriend on her way home from school. People! Look at em!
A groundbreaking discovery this isn’t, but it has been making my ground that much easier and more pleasant to walk. When you live in your hometown (or anywhere long enough), these connections are effortlessly taken for granted and often unwelcome. Seeing a long lost friend at the grocery store? Good. Knowing which bar your friends will be at without asking? Awesome. Seeing an old flame with a new romance? Not so much. You get the point. Starting somewhere new with zero whopping connections, you forget how long it’s going to take.
Then one morning, a face I recognized (though the face’s name I do not know) taps me on the shoulder and wakes me up. It’s time to get off the train and go to work. This familiar stranger knows my face. I know his. He always sits on the aisle of a two-seat row, leather bag in the empty seat. He reads. I sit on the inside of a two-seat row, my oddly angled airborne foot encroaching into the empty seat. I sleep. Disoriented as I was after his polite wake-up tapping, I was happy. I had been seen.
As you remember from reading my master’s thesis (POP QUIZ!), part of the philosophical meat was realizing the existence of other people (namely yourself) through a product. Give the toaster eyes so that perhaps you understand there were humans involved in making it, thus you should care about it a bit more. Faces also meant that you had a self. The products could see you. Physicality. Being. You. There. Seeing and being seen.
I’ve never been one for the spotlight, that’s not what I mean. I’m just glad that I’m here, existing. And this week, I was able to return the favor. I tapped another co-worker awake. I don’t know her name, but I know what she does and that she’d probably be disappointed to end up at the train’s final stop, late for work, wishing someone would have just seen her.
On that note, I’ll be seeing most of you real soon! OHMYGODIMSOEXCITED. My three weeks of summer vacation begin tomorrow, where I’m hotasshumidmotherfucking weather bound! (Today it’s about 50 degrees, which is a relief to you, but I’d like it to go ahead and be summer already for more than two days, please, before October comes again. I’m tried of wearing a damn sweatshirt.) It’s Florida first for a week. Then Louisiana for two. You know where to find me. I’ll do my best to find you!
Enjoy this installment’s photo slideshow. It has nothing to do with the above, since I’ve managed to avoid telling you all about what I’ve been doing. It’s a real mishmash this time. But there’s Karl’s graduation and party, a fantastic mustache, some nature, a giant ant, midsummer celebrations, sad panda, a work trip and cornflakes, among other awesomeness.
Take a look for yourselves by clicking my Lady Liberty photo below. You’ll come to a slideshow. Please remember to click ‘show info’ so you get the captions. Glad sommar!