I went for an hour long walk today, bundled up in my scarf and gloves. I made mental notes of the shops I’ll need to visit and then made my way to the Water of Leith Walkway where the air was fresh, the ground was muddy, and the wind blew my hair in every direction. I saw a grey squirrel, perfectly perched in a tree. I saw families, and couples, and friends, and people on bikes.
And as I walked and as I looked, I was reminded of something. Something I think I forgot existed: other people.
They’re all around.
Cramped in tiny, one-bedroom apartments in New York; seated on buses in Lima; eating dinner at their kitchen tables in Barcelona. They’re tenderly sleeping in queen-sized beds in Mexico city, or writing a book in Berlin, or watching their baby walk for the first time in Beijing.
I guess sometimes you get so focused on certain people or on yourself that you can forget that other people exist, too.
But they’re there. They’re laughing, and crying and dying, and living. They’re making mistakes and then trying to fix them. They’re rereading their favourite books, and trying to be brave, and sleeping in past their alarms. Existing. Just like me.
I used to see other people all the time. I’d see them on the skytrain to work, waiting for the elevator, seated at the table next to me at the restaurant. They used to be everywhere.
But the world has been empty this year. Quiet streets, lonely park benches, deserted stadiums, closed libraries. Even when I peer behind the curtain of my bedroom window, I see a barren road. Occasionally, a man with his dog will walk by.
I guess I always knew the world was great and wide, but when the places that used to be full are suddenly abandoned and when you’ve been spending so much time inside your head, it can be easy to forget about other people. But it’s nice to be reminded.