They all walk past, in their own worlds. A smile here, a furrowed brow there. The expectations plane sometimes as they check their phones, the elders check watches. They are chasing things, people, spending their time in minutes and money. A caricature of social matrices made mundane by aggregation.
Christmas decorations are up – almost all but the nativity scenes actually have nothing to do with Christianity. These are traditions writ large on a canvas of culture with a caption, “spend”. Giving is good, so that stuff you spent your year collecting you can give us – and we’ll give you things, and you can give them to someone else. It’s the way of it, anyone who disagrees is labeled ‘Scrooge’ and mocked.
Malls used to be vibrant places in better times – now it’s more of a who’s who. The convenience of everything being in one place comes at the cost of the rent of the shops, passed down to customers who happily spend… when they have money. Times are different now, but it was around 2 p.m. on a Monday, and I had an eye appointment. So I can see all of this more clearly. As if I would want to see this all more clearly.
Christmas shopping has begun. I walked through the toy stores, considering my nephews.
The young women and men in the store immediately start asking me if I need help, as if I might teeter and fall around all their wonderment. Hardly. It’s the tired recipe of the better mouse trap – cars, action figures and dolls (and some in between), things that you can shoot at other people – legally. What a life skill to have, to fall back on in hard times. As a young man, as a boy, I was always interested in the things I could do things with – create my own world in my fashion, by block, by log, by metal contraption. I was lucky to understand that about myself at a young age. My nephews, I am not sure of. I think about it.
I get, of all things, a Subway sandwich. There is no good Italian sub in Trinidad and Tobago, not like in a good deli in Manhattan. Roast beef could have been interesting but they have no horseradish, and there’s no point to roast beef for me without horseradish.
I am disconnected. I know this, I knew this, I have known this for as long as I can remember. The days when it was uncomfortable are hard to remember now, but they were there – the discomfiture, the awkwardness, the silly attempts to pretend to fit in. To be ‘normal’. Normal disturbs me. It’s as unimaginative as water rolling downhill.
The mundane narrative is, strangely, not what people want – as can be seen by media consumption. And all it takes is a moment to do something, to think something, to observe something outside of the tunnel vision society creates.