I walk by my everyday people each morning. I know their stories well. Not really. Really, I have completely made them up. Yet, I mostly believe them. When I tell them to myself so often, my truth is stronger than the actual one I do not know.
There is the older man all in brown. Brown pants. Brown coat. Brown hat. He is gentle and smiley. He moves quietly and sure footed. If he walked in the forest, his footsteps wouldn’t make a sound. He always says good morning and returns my smile. I am sure he is a man of routine. His shoes have an exact spot on a rack. He never kicks them off. He walks at the same time, shops at the same time, rests at the same time. His wife is tired. She rarely joins him but they share morning coffee every day, each sipping and looking elsewhere. When he walks, he thinks of what must be done. Sometimes, he surprises himself and remembers things he thought he had forgotten. His route is long. His morning walk takes time. He never misses a day.
There is the gangly boy. A teenager actually. He has two siblings. An older brother, a more serious and wiry version of him. A younger sister, energetic and bouncy, clearly a girl in a boy’s house. Most concerned about being seen, being heard, not missing anything. Sometimes these siblings walk together. There is easy banter and comfortable silence. Usually, though, my boy is alone. He gives me sideways smiles, acknowledgement that he sees me often. I wonder about his school day. I am sure his mind is often elsewhere – happy daydreams, not teenage melancholy. I think about his parents. I am convinced that their mornings are full of bustle and busy. My boy looks happy to be walking in his own space, in the big world, with no rush around him that he needs to acknowledge. He looks like he knows the freedom a simple walk alone affords him. I imagine his Mom and Dad, lugging overstuffed bags, spilling full travel mugs of coffee, arguing over who remembered and who forgot the daily things that must be attended to. Their son, meanwhile, lopes along, quite carefree, open to a new day.
There is the lady in the pink raincoat. It’s Vancouver. She wears it often. Her boots are practical. She always has an umbrella even if it just hints of rain. I don’t really think about where she is going or what she might do there. Her pace is determined but she carries with her an aura of where she has been. She lives in an apartment she has had for years. It is plain and dull on the outside. Inside it is tiny and hers. There are windows of succulents. Shelves full of books. A kitchen full of tea and spices and bowls of oranges. She has favourite chairs at different times of day. She sits in the kitchen in the morning, drinking hot tea and making lists. Her evenings are spent curled up on her couch reading, thinking, studying. If she is home in the day, she sits in her window and watches people walk by, noticing their movements more than their faces. This is not her forever city. She is here to get something done. Soon, she will return to a place full of sisters and neighbours and friends. When she walks down the street there, she will always say hello.
These are my everyday people. I know who they might be.
I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.
Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.
Lovely. It makes me miss the year I lived in Riga and walked home from work every day. It’s funny how we can project personalities and stories onto people from these small glimpses.
And be so sure they are true!
The simplicities of their daily lives say so much. From the succulents to the shoes lined up just so to the gangly teenager. Your vivid storytelling lives in me now.
I think the simple things are in many ways the most revealing.
Your post reminds of how we used to make up stories for people. Gosh, it seems like an eternity since I just stopped for a moment and watched. I love the characters of your everyday people.
People watching has always been a favourite thing for me.
Carrie, you see stories everywhere! I love your phrasing of your “everyday people” and I love how you think about them and imagine their lives. The man in brown captured my heart!
There are stories everywhere! I am just super nosey. So I make up what I want to know!
Beautiful stories! The way you weave the words to create their personas is so lovely.
You’ve inspired me to write about who I think the people around me are. I wish I walked more. Where we live, it’s more drive than walk. I miss NYC for that reason. Your descriptions are so beautiful. This would make a great mentor text for a writing assignment.
I don’t know how I would survive without my walk!
I feel exactly the same way… I run the same route at the same time most days and I pass the same people. I often wonder about them. One year when I was injured one woman saw me in the grocery store and approached me–” I wondered what happened to you. I miss seeing you.” Funny how we feel like we know people that we have never really met. Love how you made them an inspiration for your slice.
It’s so true. I am sure I know these people. How lovely that this woman came up to speak to you!
I love how you captured people watching into a focused meandering of the details of their lives. These are some great seeds for future writings.
I never even think forward like that but you are right, there could be more here . . .
Your last line is perfect, “I know who they might be.” As a commuter, we do travel along with the same familiar folks every day and we think we come to know them. Their habits, their stories, their likes and dislikes, but ultimately we don’t. Amazing how it’s the unspoken rule of commuting that we don’t reach out and ultimately connect.
Although I do have smiles and hellos going with 2 of 3 of these fellow walkers. It would be strange to speak since I already have their stories “figured out.”
Oh wow- you are a writer! Observing all around you, imagining and filling in stories. I love this.
Thanks Lisa. I am always curious about people.
Isn’t it fun to create a world for people you see, whether regularly or just once. Sometimes when I am waiting I do the same thing. People watching let’s your imagination go wild. Have you read “The Girl on the Train,” the narrator is creating a false life for everyday people, too.
I haven’t! Will look for it.
I loved the vicarious pleasure of walking through your city to work. I drive 60 miles to work over mostly open roads–sometimes I literally see only one or two cars on the whole drive! Instead of people, I see bald eagles and coyotes and antelope and deer and wild turkeys. One of the great pleasures of traveling, for me, is people watching and spinning stories about the people I see.
And I wish I saw more wildlife on my walk!
Thanks for writing at the intersection of imagination and observation, Carrie, each paragraph a thoughtful meditation of noticing.
Like that phrase Brian.
Love this thoughtful post! I too make up stories about people.
Isn’t it fun?
Elsie commented on The Girl on the Train – that is exactly what your story made me think of too! I love having the time to imagine the lives of people I don’t know. If I’m walking through the mall or waiting for an appointment my imagination can run wild. It’s fun to create worlds based on impressions and details you pick up on. Nicely done!
Sometimes I wonder if I am at all correct . . .
The made up life of every day people provides many characters to write about. Your observations have led you to detailed descriptions. Can’t help but the lady with chairs, books, tea and oranges is my favorite. Please weave a loving hubby into her life if possible.
I LOVE that you wish a husband for her. I don’t think she has one . . .
I love the particulars that you noticed, Carrie – lovely details.
There are stories everywhere, aren’t there? I do the same thing…I love imagining the stories of those I pass by.
I can’t imagine not doing this . . .
This is what you can observe when your head is not stuck down to your phone 🙂 The stories of life that surround us! Thanks for posting!
I am not really a walker and texter = prefer to be noticing.
This is a great mentor text for characterization! I feel as if I know these people just from your words. How fun to see these people everyday.
It is! I worry if I don’t see them often.
This is a really lovely slice about the people in your life. Really awesome. When I was in college we lived off a main street and we gave everyone nick names: stick man, flower lady, snuggle tooth. Fun stuff.
Yes, I think many of us do something like this.
I loved this. My favorite line was “inside, it was tiny and hers.”
Love your lady in the pink raincoat and this line: “She has favourite chairs at different times of day.” What fun!
Thank you Ramona.
Loved this! What fun. 🙂
I’ve often wondered about the lives and stories of people I pass each day on my drive to work. I love how you’ve imagined who these people might be!
I have an active imagination!