Sometimes when I am traveling and lost in my thoughts I look in the windows of passing houses and cars and think, ‘There are people in there I do not and probably will never know, living lives that I know nothing about.’ It is a humbling thought about my small place in the universe and the many strangers who occupy it living mundane or possibly fascinating lives. There is a curious part of me that wants to know them. To know what is going on behind the brightly lit window. Is it a happy family just sitting down to dinner? Or a family torn apart by tragedy wondering if they will ever smile again.
The man driving the car next to me while his wife rests her head against the window: who is he? Have they had a long trip or is she weighed down with weariness? I wonder what the anchor tattoo on his shoulder means and when and where he got it.
If I had one superpower, it would be to look into a person’s eyes and know their life’s story. Maybe I’m too curious for my own good; I suppose some would call it nosy. Maybe it is my love of story and wanting to know where people are coming from and what makes them who they are.
There are billions of people on this planet with their own lives and fascinating stories. Every once in a while we hear about one of them through an uplifting or tragic news piece. It is just a blip on the continuum of time and then we go about our business returning to the rhythm of our ordinary days. As I pass by the windows, my imagination takes over and creates the story of the family who lives there or the destination of the car beside me.
I imagine the man with the anchor tattoo celebrating with his former Navy buddies when Seal Team 6 took out Bin Laden. In their revelry they agree to matching tattoos. Right now he and his wife are on their way to the graduation of their oldest son from the Naval Academy. She is reminiscing about her boy’s childhood and wondering how they got here so fast as she rests her head against the window.
I imagine an elderly couple in the 1940’s bungalow we just passed. She is slowly clearing rose patterned dishes from the table while he sips his coffee from a dainty chipped cup: the last remaining piece of their wedding china. She joins him at the table as they comfortably chat about news of the kids and grandkids.
I have no way of knowing if these stories are true. The characters don’t even know I exist. I am merely someone passing by in the car. An outsider.