I walk to my French class here just like I did in Sancerre, France. In Sancerre it was a quite walk slowly lumbering through a sleepy petite ville. I rarely saw anyone if class was in the morning and I walked back in the dark if my class was in the afternoon. It was all very French, very quite, and very small. Here in the states I am in a bigger town and I walk to my morning class through the very busy downtown area. I walk from where I live on one side to the other where the school is located.
This is a busy and vibrant downtown where unlike the suburbs everything is happening where we all can watch. I walk each day with all the people dressed in their suits all walking with speed, (nothing at all like New York City they know how to walk), most plugged into a device and swinging a bag. Others who are down on their luck are sitting on corners, some hiding while others want some money, lots are just talking to themselves.
There are people dropping kids off at school and childcare, lots of shoppers and farmers market workers, so many Target employees. Most people are busy on the phone. There are people who never look up. Some people just look too much. There are some people who are lost looking up trying to figure out which way to go and then the brave who just come up to you and ask. I see more bars than stores, one street for sex shops, one for fine dining one for art galleries. There is a high-end department store, a regular department store and a discount store. Lots of hotels, a cinema, orchestra hall and a theater or two.
I love to watch while I walk.
I watch you smoke, spit, lots of spitting, yell, sing, walk, run, eat, more spitting, lots of loud phone discussions for us all to share in, a born again saving souls on one corner and a man condemning the rest of us on the other. I watch you wait for the bus, hail a cab, walk out in the street barely miss being hit. I watch you thinking I watch you happy and it’s hard to watch the desperate.
Some of you smile, some frown, some are pretty darn mad, some really too happy, some friendly some not so friendly and some best left alone. Some are fat, some are thin, some need to eat a hamburger, some need to take a bath, brush their teeth, some need to check the mirror one more time, some need bigger clothes, some smaller, (much more need bigger), some walk with assurance, some hoping they don’t get hit.
The worst are the ones yelling at their kids, pulling on their arms, pushing them from behind, no better are the woman yelling at their men and the men yelling at their women and others yelling at each other. Some push through the crowd, others let you by, some hold doors, some slam doors.
40 minutes later I am at my last light, take a left turn and I’m at the school. Hit the buzzer and I am inside. Two hours later walking home I do it again I watch everyone all the way back.
Travel enough, live long enough and you will learn people are pretty much the same the world over, I just wish everyone could figure this out. You can learn a lot watching a crowd.