While walking back from an emergency grocery shopping trip late this evening, I spotted a cafe that opens late, filled with people laughing, smiling, relaxing, and no doubt having all sorts of fun. As I trudged past with my bag of shopping, with the knowledge that my evening was far from over yet, I started to wonder how other people get to have lives like that – how they make it look so easy.
I’m always going somewhere to get something for somebody or other. I always have a list of things or instructions in my pocket. Somewhere to be. Somebody to pick up. Somebody to deliver somewhere. Something that needs doing. Something that needs to be purchased. Something that needs to be taken back. Always something.
My life seems to exist in the cracks around everybody elses expectations and obligations. You try to tell yourself that you’re happy, and that doing things for others gives you something to do, but you’re not always very convincing.
I suppose there’s another part of me that knows how deceptive appearances can be. The middle-aged couple in the cafe could both have been divorced, with complicated fragments of family dragging along behind them. The older gentleman sitting on his own in a tweed jacket with a glass of white wine might have been a widower – with no family or friends to share his evening with. The young couple might have been on a first date – struggling to make conversation because either they really liked each other and didn’t want to wreck everything, or they were resolving to delete Tinder on the way home.
So as I trudge past, carrying my shopping, perhaps I shouldn’t judge. Perhaps I should just smile at the stories that might be unfolding, and remember that nobody is any better than anybody else really – we’re all doing our best, putting one foot in front of the other, and making it up as we go along.