One evening this week I left the house to meet my boyfriend to get some dinner. It was just dark, not long after sunset, not that it’s ever really, truly dark in London. Fulham, where I live, is always at its most busy at around 7pm in the evenings. There are loads of bars and restaurants and offices scattered around, so there are people everywhere going about their business.
I can’t say that I pay much attention very often to what’s going on around me. I usually just daydream and listen to music or get annoyed about people walking slowly or stopping in front of me. But this particular walk was a little bit different because I was in a really thoughtful mood and, for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on, I took in all my surroundings. Like I actually thought about them. Which makes me wonder if I think too little the rest of the time.
I walked past people talking, people on the phone, people in groups laughing, couples strolling hand in hand, people hurrying home from work with bags of shopping. I walked past bars with groups of friends drinking and animatedly telling stories, I saw a group of girls celebrating an engagement with a big diamond ring balloon. I saw some tipsy men pretending to moon walk outside a pub and saw a lady chatting to a homeless man about what he’s eating tonight. I paid a bit more attention to all the people and what they were doing and realised how intricate every person’s life is, and how it weaves in and out of other lives, picking up and leaving and then coming back to each other to catch up before leaving again.
It then struck me how many lights there were coming from cars and buses full of people and shops selling food, bars selling wine, restaurants serving dinner and street lights and traffic lights and tiny lights in front of people’s faces coming from phones.
I walked quite exceptionally slowly during this trip to meet my boyfriend while I thought about all these people and all the lights and how busy it was and about all the different functioning things. By things I mean traffic lights and the tube station and staff working late and buses collecting people to take them wherever they needed to go.
For the ten minutes I dragged out this walk I paid attention to things I usually wouldn’t give a second glance to. I observed and watched and listened and thought that humans, on the whole, and all the things we do, are really interesting and quite amazing really. I also thought it was nice to think that way in a world where the news is 90% bad and people are scared and it’s easy to be really angry at humans.
I usually don’t think much about people at all. Maybe I’ll think a bit more now though.
And no I wasn’t drunk or high on a questionable substance, which you might think if you read this. This is just a short story about humans and not much else from a ten minute period of life that’s stuck in my head.
I was just going for a walk in the cold in my red coat and borrowed jeans to go and eat some food on a Wednesday evening.