Today I tried to see myself through others. No physical or verbal interaction was required of this task. I simply had to sit and wait.
I sat for an hour at the shipyard waiting for the freight ferry to arrive. I was headed to Oak Bluffs, not Oaks Bluff as corrected by Matthew, a native to the island. He warned that the slip was a sure sign of an off-islander and I would be taken advantage of if anyone caught on. I thanked him for the advice, because I didn't want to stick out, not in that way. But it became a game for me; my eyes moving from one person to the next, to everyone that came into my view; men on bicyles, one in denim shorts looking slightly more like a woman than a man; two little boys over near the Coke machine arguing over their purchase; beautiful women with perfect eyebrows, manicured toes, and designer sunglasses; the arthritic man with a cane and hunched back; the musician on the blue bench with a guitar and songbook and no other luggage, smiling about something he knew. I wanted to see who noticed me first or caught me looking at them. If our eyes met and theirs had already been directed my way, that meant I was the observee. If my eyes laid upon them unknowingly and remained there without a reaction or feeling of being watched, I was the observant. By the time the ferry arrived, I had found that the latter was the typical response, leading me to ponder my self-concious and my own sense of awareness and distinctness among the masses for the better part of the day and into the evening.
Sometimes I feel as though I am sending out so much energy, as if its pulsating beneath my core like sonic radar, attracting all the possible atoms to which I can stick and pull inside me. As if I could fold up the landscape and all those people and all that beauty like a map I would carry around in my back pocket. Other times, I am no one, I do not exist, or I am like the moth who doesn't know which side of the screen they are on, but keeps on flying toward some light far off in the distance.
On the upper deck of the boat, outside in the wind that tasted like salt when I breathed, I made a new friend. He was the one who noticed me first and after learning I was a fellow writer, I was allowed the privledge of reading a poem he had written that day. It was about an embrace between two people who didn't want to let go. The irony between his words and my newfound ideas about a world laden with attraction and detachment, made me think that when you ask for a sign or wonder if anyone is paying attention, it may not be the person right in your view that has caught your eye, but they are the other solo traveler who just happened to set down their bag right outside your peripheral. I guess even when you think you see it all, there is more to be revealed.