People Watching

Okay… so here I am again.  I’m not at my (Squirrel Girl’s) favorite bench (picnic table) because THAT one was taken… but I’m only one table away, so that isn’t bad.  It is still shady and quiet.  I’m listening to Radio Margaritaville and people watching tonight.  I found a heart shaped rock on the way up from the parking lot and it got me thinking how much I notice in everything that isn’t really there.

Tonight… it is people watching… college students are an interesting lot.

There are people who are here to learn… and people who seem to be here to mostly be seen being here.  I’m not sure which category I fit in to (given that I’m sitting here in my Vibrams hairless hobbit feet, bright multicolored striped socks and my pink Buff… I would very much like to fade into the background but I’m pretty sure that isn’t happening.

Everyone here seems to wear headsets.  Some white, some black, some neon green or purple, but everyone seems to adorn their own set.  I would like to think that many of them are listening to recorded lectures.  I’m pretty sure they aren’t.

There is a girl in all white, no bra (OBVIOUSLY no bra… was white a conscious choice???)  and hot pants (are they still called hot pants or is my age showing?) so short you can almost see her… yeah… and her mother SO never taught her how to sit.  The only color on her (shiny blonde hair, white on white with white shoes) are the bright orange nails (fingers and toes).  She is here to be seen being here.  No books.  no backpack.  Nothing that lets on that she has been in a classroom today or intends to be.  Are college campuses a big pickup pace?

I think she wants to have people notice everything about her.  She has taken very much care to stand out.

The middle aged man, hair thinning, belly thickening, dressed in a t-shirt and cargo shorts, heavy black plastic frames on his glasses, his bottle of tea slowly fermenting in the not quite shady enough sunny spots on his table… he is deep into a thick text book and scribbling madly at his notes.  He’s here for the classes.  He periodically stops and looks off into the distance (as distant as the brick wall 50 feet away can be) and contemplates whatever he is reading.  Is he here to just brush up on his knowledge, or does he, like so many, have to find a way to fit in better to today’s amazingly unforgiving job market?

He wants to fade into oblivion and would love to have anywhere else to study, you can tell.

Dassie girl thinks I ought to start classes here in the spring so I can go to class with her. I would love to start taking classes again, but I’m not sure a second undergraduate degree is where I would go.  maybe I really should think about an MFA.

Or maybe just the school of hard knocks.

The cloud (the ONLY cloud that I can see in the entire sky) looks like a snow white cheesy poof.  I hate to say it, but I would love to have some of the rain that has been being dumped on Louisiana headed this way.  not going to happen.  I recall almost fondly the sound of the lakes freezing in Northern MN as the world bakes around me.  As the small creek of sweat rivles slide from between my shoulders and down past the crack of my ass.  Do the other people here have that going on, or is it just me, or is it just me that notices?

Given that 1 in 100 people have epilepsy, I wonder who those ones are that pass my quiet seat.  How many are like me and have RA?  There are several blind people who pass and several hearing impaired.  One working dog helps his deaf master.  I would love to go pet him, but know better.  He doesn’t say in training, he is on the job.  There is an orange plastic bowl tied to his owner’s backpack so he can stop and get a drink on this roasty toasty day.  How many are Aspies?  How many just feel like they don’t belong?

I wonder how many people would be sitting here with me if there weren’t huge signs everywhere telling everyone that this is a smoke free campus. I wonder where the people who are smoking are hiding to do their studying.

There are people taking classes the way I did.  Babies strapped to their chests in a snuggli, plastic bag of books in hand.

There goes a girl in long baggy pants with a heavy dark hoody on.  It is 103 degrees.  I wonder if she is siding from herself or hiding from the rest of us, or maybe she is trying to hide her outlets.  Is she ashamed of her body (too big?  to big perceived?  too small?)  Is she ashamed of cuts or scars or burns?  I wish I were as young and open as my niece and I had the courage to go over and hug her.  But some weird looking middle aged woman who is a complete stranger (and they don’t honestly come much strange-er) coming up and hugging her… I would probably have the campus cops on my behind end.

Classes release… a herd of students with backpacks and wheely bags and piles of books clasped close walk briskly between buildings.  No wilting flowers here, it is a brisk walk between one air conditioned place and another is the task for the day.

And here I sit.  A part yet apart.  Transparent in my bright pink.  Fading into the crowd who don’t look at each other, who don’t notice and certainly don’t see.  I keep thinking about the words I was told recently… “you aren’t the weird one, you are normal, they are weird”

I’m not so sure


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