I glanced and caught a glimpse of her just in time to see the back of her hand wipe the side of her cheek below the eye. As it was a passing glance, my gaze landed on the bookshelf, but this act caught my attention, so I returned my gaze to her. It seems that the gesture I may have witnessed was to wipe tears from cheek, so I was curious. Was she crying? Maybe just beginning to feel emotion take over?
We were in a bookstore (Bolen’s, naturally) and she was sitting in a chair with a book, but it wasn’t the book that held her attention. The book was open on her lap. She noticed me looking at her and she smiled. I didn’t know if she felt the need to explain but she simply said, “people are fascinating.”
You know those moments when you don’t know if the interaction is meant for you, to teach you something, give you a sign, or just remind you to pay attention? Or maybe it is more for the other person. So, I spoke with her. I agreed people are fascinating as it felt like she had more she wanted to say. She explained she enjoys watching people. I asked if she was enjoying her book. She said she is enjoying the moment. Being present in that moment.
We chatted briefly, small talk, before I continued wandering through the books. As I was back in that section a few moments later, she had gone. I did wonder, who is she? What is her story? Has she always felt so present or is this an appreciation she has gradually gained over time?
Perhaps next time I will have the courage to ask some of these questions. I am learning to get over my tendency to avoid. Talking with people means I am also sharing some of myself, which can be uncomfortable. But sometimes, a conversation with a stranger can be a real gem, and leave me with lots to think about.