When I was little, the window in my bedroom overlooked a main four-laned street that further down merged into a highway. I would sit on my bed and look down at the toy-sized cars whizzing back and forth at all times of the night (I had major insomnia all my life, totally cured by the birth of my oldest. Ya always want what ya can't have, I guess!) and I would try to come up with different, intricately detailed stories for each car, explaining why they were on the road at 2 o'clock in the morning.
The little blue car with the broken tail light was obviously speeding away from the cops who tried to issue him a ticket. He turned onto a major street in the hopes of losing them. He can't afford a ticket, you see, because he just lost his job, and his three children are dressed in rags and never get any treats at all.
The green one with the suitcase on the roof-rack is probably coming back from a weekend in Florida (I didn't know much about any states in between New York, New Jersey, and Florida) and he and his wife keep taking turns at the wheel on the long trip home, while in the cookie-crumb-covered and sticky-with-spilled-apple-juice
back seat, their two children sleep.
I saw each car, each person, as a little floating bubble of unique life, a tiny world on its own rotation, that can get very close to another little world but never actually merge. (Especially those of you who think it's okay to pick your noses in the rear-view mirror. We DO see you from the window, guys. YOU know who I'm talking to!)
As I got a little older, I realized that there are actually points of intersection, and that most of them really boil down to how you feel about this person walking down the street, and how this person walking down the street makes you feel about yourself.
Little thought bubbles at the points of intersection:
"Oh no, I think that I owe her money. Do I owe her money? Oh, darn, and I think it was from a long time ago, too."
"She is always so patient with her kids. I wish that I could do that. She makes it look so easy."
"Ooooh...remember when I said that stupid thing and it was in front of her and then I got so embarrased and I never explained...I wish that I could explain now, but it was 10 years ago. Oh, why can't I just get over it already!"
"She is totally skinnier than me. But maybe I'm prettier?"
"She is totally prettier than me. But maybe I am skinnier?"
Like our nerve endings are rubbed raw with the contact, the intimacy of interaction. Our minds are jumbled with thoughts and feelings and memories until it's not clear if you feel a certain way about the person that you are chatting with or if you feel that way about yourself...
I took the kids to the park yesterday afternoon. Hogging the merry-go-round was one of the girls who has been teasing Princess in gan. I braced myself. Princess loved the merry-go-round. How was this going to work out?
"Hi, M!" Princess called out. "Stop the merry-go-round, I want to get on!"
"Okay," M agreed.
And to my amazement, 5 minutes later, the girl were spinning around with their arms around each other, singing "Bar Yochai" at the very top of their lungs.
Because now it's the afternoon. Who cares about what happened this morning, in gan? Right now we are two good friends on the same merry-go-round, singing this really great song.
Someone wise once said that when you walk into a party and you're all self-conscious about your choice in outfit, just remember than no one is looking at you. Just like you, they are all busy looking at themselves in the mirror.
So live. Laugh. Love. Forget what happened 10 years ago. (Except for that chick whom you owe money to. You should probably pay her back.) Twirl around together, because the past was already. The future doesn't matter yet.
Live in the present, their 4 year-old voices were singing.
Live for the now.