They say there are two ways to tell time: by the ticking of a clock (obviously), and by the growling of the stomach. The latter has always been my go-to morning alarm; and the ringing tummy has but only one way to hit snooze.
They say there are many ways to make meaning in a trip abroad: one of which is to observe the world around you. But I’ve always been a proponent of a greater meaning—why observe when you can absorb (quite literally)?
But the conflict arises when you have both questions to juggle: a starving stomach and a foreign city. Like all other days, I was resolved to not to give up on either of the two—I was a legitimate New Yorker, which meant only one acceptable breakfast: bagel and iced Americano from a vendor, one in each hand.
I eeny, meeny, miny, moe my way feeling blessed that the city is one of grids. I run and run and run as the buildings pass, and even more people pass. My savior is not far. I screech as I approach the vendor I’d spotted.
“Lady always on the breakfast run in black?” he teases.
I laugh and nod away in sheer amazement.
“Must be new around town? Haven’t seen you around,” he asks.
Where or how that conversation sparked afterwards held little importance. But like two old friends reunited, the chatter blurred naturally and smiles came genuinely. He’s no longer just any bagel vendor to me. He’s a father of a three-year-old princess daughter. He’s a victim of the recent financial crisis and the struggles of street vendor work.
He’s a new friend I’d made amidst the frenzy.
The next day I charter a new route and once again, pass by buildings and even more people. I begin to assign these nameless folks their own shares of character depth: he’s probably a little boy’s superhero daddy; she probably hates the stress her employer gives her; she’s a precious lover’s one and only. I’ll never find out but it does leave me questioning–
They say many things. But who are they?