I circled through the produce department, collecting my carrots and tomatoes and green leaf lettuce, while this woman strolled through the fruits. I wondered if she recognized me, too. The Pringles and Coke in her cart surprised me. In yoga class, she was the student everyone envied, even though There Is No Competition In Yoga. If I'd spent any time picturing her life at home, it would have included a super clean diet, possibly vegan, certainly gluten-free. Shows how unimaginative I am. Now I knew two things about her, that she can do beautiful flying splits, and she eats Pringles. Also that she has a brother with tight hips.
All these thoughts tumbled through my head in the produce department, and still, she never looked my way. I spent some time at the bagged salads, pulling them out of the refrigerated case and scrutinizing them for the slimy brown beginnings of rot. At the same time, the woman from yoga class studiously considered the nearby fruit salad offerings.
I sort of wanted to walk over and talk to her. But what would I say? "Hi. I don't know your name, but I recognize you from yoga. We once shared space in the studio, and your brother was kind of terrible at pigeon pose. Not that I judge him for it; I know he has tight hips."
How strange would that sound? In the end, I didn't feel I had the right to speak to her. I realized I was just an extra in her life. If her credits had rolled that morning in the yoga studio, I would have been Yoga Student #3. Today I was Woman Agonizing Over Spring Mix.
|Did you ever stop to think about the trio huddled in blankets in the back?|
What's their story? I bet it's good. And the oarsman in red? Most
interesting guy in the boat.
I thought about that. Here I am, a fully realized human being, reduced to filler in another person's episode. Just an unremarkable face in the background. I considered the fact that I recognized her, but she didn't recognize me back. Rather than take offense, I wondered how often I'm guilty of failing to see the people around me, the bodies who serve as my own extras. Do they sometimes recognize me? Do any of them know I have a weakness for Nutella and children who incessantly tattle on each other?
And all of them, from Man Arguing On The Phone to Elderly Woman Ordering Tea to Yoga Student #5, they aren't really extras, any more than I am. We're all part of a glorious, ensemble cast. I have 7 billion co-stars. I know this, but sometimes it's good to be reminded. Next time I'm out, I'm going to try to pay more attention to people than I do to my produce.