A Little Bliss

I often stand at the window of my sixth floor apartment with a cigarette and watch the people in the town square below. The reason for being there is the cigarette. The people-watching is just a fortunate byproduct. I like people more when I don’t have to interact with them or think about their acceptance.

I’ve seen people moving into the public toilet to sleep for the night. The disabled stall is the one to go for. It’s bigger. Last night I heard a sound like running water and eventually noticed the silhouette of a girl squatting in the shadows to pee. The public toilet was only 30 meters away (and unoccupied) but maybe she didn’t realise.

I see old men taking in the sun on the garden seats – sometimes for hours at a time. I see the young gather at night in their souped up Volvos and BMWs, gathering like a pack of wolves ready for the night’s hunt. I see toddlers play while parents check their phones.

A few days ago there were two young girls hanging around the parallel bars in the play area. They couldn’t have been any more than 9 or 10 years old. They were just fooling around and laughing until one of them broke into a song.

Their movements changed as they sang together. I don’t know what they were singing but it was obviously something they knew well. Oblivious to their surroundings, they started singing in unison loud enough to be heard six floors up. They were facing each other, dancing a routine they must have practiced a hundred times or more.

The routine ended in a hug. It wasn’t one of those lean-in-shoulders-touching hugs that friends give one another on the street. It was the type of full-bodied hug a 2-year-old would give to a parent in a moment of happy affection; unguarded, untainted, unaffected, pure. A complete hug. A little piece of bliss.

I don’t know if it was part of the routine or the natural conclusion of two best friends sharing a moment when they were as-one.

I stood there, smiled, and hoped for the latter.

I have no idea if they’ll remember that moment in the future. Was it the pure happiness that it looked like from above? What did they feel in that moment? Will they find that memory when they need it in the next 10, 20, 50 years?

And do those of us who have lost the freedom of youth get to experience that sort of unconscious joy ever again?

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  1. Swade, they may be less frequent, but it is always a treat to read one of your posts.

  2. Yes, I have spent much time sitting and watching people at what I call the center of the universe. Center and Oxford Streets in Berkeley Ca.. I worked at UC on the afternoon shift for 20 years and watched the day people the night people the homeless taking up sleeping places in store fronts. The plastic bag man who died by the entrance to UC.(A Street person who wore many plastic bags as clothing. At one time as I understand he was a Police officer who shot someone and never was able to recover. I would get to the area early before work and have coffee on the sidewalk just to watch the street action. Where I worked we had showers for our workers and would turn a bind eye to the occasional street person who would discover and take a shower in our building. Which was easy to access after a certain hour. Protests riots and just about everything else seemed to take place on this street. People watching I must I admit is my most enjoyable hobbie besides cars.

  3. I have no problem hugging or showing affection, I suppose it becomes so natural to me I forget how hard it must be for others. I was lucky as my dear dad who passed away 18 years ago was always so affectionate to myself & my 3 younger brothers that it just seems the right thing to do. I do take the ease of it for granted. I loved the way it made you smile.

  4. “What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.”
    The opening lines of “Leisure”, a poem by the Welsh poet W. H. Davies.

    Swade, I’m so glad that you take the time to stand and stare and having done so then recount those scenes and your thoughts upon them. It’s always a pleasure to read your compositions.