Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Perfect Stranger

"We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken."
-Fyodr Dostoevky-

I like people. I like seeing the same people in the same places at the same time. It makes me feel the oneness with the rest of humanity--we're all here living our lives together.

There is a man who walks his dog up Gilman Drive. I often see him when I am heading to the freeway on my way to work. He always looks slightly disheveled--the I-just-got-out-of-bed-and-I'm-not-quite-awake-yet look. His brown hair will be mussed. The dog, on the other hand--the most adorable beagle--is always ready for the day. Alert, perky, and overjoyed to be out and about. They walk slowly, and the man is almost always wearing a blue or gray shirt. Recently, it has been a fleece pullover, as autumn brings on its damp morning chill.

Then there is the couple who I almost always see from my office window. They arrive in their red two-door car. He, driving, and reverse into the empty space across the lot from where my car is parked. They both get out. He pulls his plastic grocery bag containing lunch from the back seat. She is always wearing jeans and heels. They hug. He kisses her. He heads in to work, and she gets into the car and drives off. It's a sweet ritual.

Amazing how these people--these strangers--become a part of our lives, our daily routine, and when we find that they don't appear as scheduled, a twinge of disappointment floods the soul. There was a series of weeks when I did not see the Man Who Walks the Beagle. When he finally reappeared, this huge smile came to my face the morning I saw him again. I think I actually said out loud, "He's back!"

Cheers to all the unknown folks who surround us, knit us in to the never ending circle of humanity.