Sometimes I am overwhelmed by this rampant curiosity about how other people live their lives. For example, this weekend I was visiting a friend and she happened to be cat-sitting for her former professor so I went with her to feed the cat. He and his wife are artists (http://www.parkeharrison.com/) and it was surreal being in their home – it was extremely minimalist and almost like being in an art exhibit made to look like a stark, modern, mostly monochromatic home. It was so foreign; when I imagine a “home” I think cozy and lived in with warm colors like mahogany and goldenrod and crimson. I could not stop thinking about how they live, what they do to pass their time, how they might occupy that space. This was a situation in which I think my curiosity was warranted because their home was so eccentric, but I do this fairly often. It’s not limited to when I am in the home of two super awesome artists who embrace “life is art” when picking out furniture.
I am curious. And not in a cute way. To the point of being tempted and barely resisting reading strangers’ texts over their shoulders on the bus or studying the movements, tone of voice, and general quirks of the people around me. How do other people move through the world? Whenever I find myself in someone else’s space, especially their home, I am like a kid in a candy store. I take in the little details, trying to read what their belongings say about them, wondering where and under what circumstances they purchased those curtains over a million other options, or how often they vacuum. I stand in their kitchen and try to determine whether they are food people and this is the heart of their home or if they eat out 5 nights a week. I spend some time in their bathroom looking at their things, imagining their morning routine, learning what they need to feel comfortable going out into the world. Does this make me a creep? I typically keep this particular habit to myself to avoid coming off as such.
I think a lot of it comes from being convinced that most people have a better handle on life than I do, that they’ve worked it out before I have. Which is probably not true. But as someone who is new to the whole adult thing and still feels like such a kid in most aspects of life, it is hard not think that way. It’s also just a genuine fascination with the idea that you can only ever experience life from your own internal perspective. You can never truly step into somebody’s shoes. I remember thinking about this kind of thing since I was very young. Back then it was mind boggling and a little sad. Today it’s still sad and a little isolating, but it also carries with it some kind of security. Like, you are always going to be your own person even if there is chaos going on around you. You’re always going to have your own routines, your own distinct way of living life. And no one can ever completely understand it. It is your own. I think I’m old enough now to realize that’s not such a terrible thing.