Who Are They?

Walking into a stranger's home. I look around me. How do people live? What furnishings do they own to show their personality and style. Where do they hang their hat after a long day of work? What's cooking on the stove for dinner?

Last night, I went on a walk around our neighborhood selling tickets to a Spring Concert my choir is giving. I had 40 tickets to sell with my neighbor lady, and we managed to get our pile down to a bit less than half. It's a small village...people want to support the causes within our village. And, I had the chance to glimpse into the lives of all the people surrounding me. What hit me first, was the invitation to come sit for coffee from nearly every home. Secondly, at each home, my boys received candy from the candy jar. Third, every home I walked into was clean. Whether the furnishings were antique wood, fresh, modern Ikea, or a hodgepodge between the two, these homes all had their own character, to match the people that live within the walls.

Being the nosy person I am, this was very interesting for me. I love seeing into the lives of other people and creating stories about how they live just from little glimpses into their lives. So, I enjoyed my evening of ticket sales, though I am NO born salesperson!

This morning I walked Jari to soccer camp. My bike broke down on me yesterday and has left me transport-less (that's a word, right) other than the two feet that swing from the end of my body. So, we took a walk, and on the way, I noticed it was glass recycling day. In front of each home, were the recycling containers filled with glass. And I got another intake of information about all my neighbors. What brand pasta sauce do they use? How much wine do they drink? Do they use olive oil or sunflower oil? In which stores do they shop?

As original as each home is, so is the container of glass to be recycled. Each container holds a story, a story of a family, how they live, what they like, who they are.

In my recycling bin today, there was a broken Bob the Builder glass, 2 bottles of coffee milk, 2 jars of different varieties pasta sauce (I buy what's on sale), a sheet of broken glass from a curio cabinet, 5 jars of different sorts of veggies, 1 jar of sweet and sour mix, a jar of mustard, and a jar of chocolate pasta. 2 jars of peanut butter and who knows what else. What does that say about me? About my family? About how we live and who we are? And what conclusions are my neighbors drawing when they take a glimpse into my recycling bin? Or am I just overly curious and nosier than most?


V-Grrrl said...

Tera, I always do this in the checkout line at the grocery store, observing what people are buying and imagining their lives, who shares their space, how they live. Growing up near a college town with all-male universities, I used to see guys queued up with beer and condoms on Saturday nights at the grocery store. I could guess what their weekend would look like!

I walk for exercise and when I lived in Belgium I used to observe everyone's recycling too. You could tell when someone had a birthday (all the cardboard boxes put out), who had babies in diapers, who had had a party (or a binge!), etc.

I think as writers we have an eye for detail and untold stories...

Claudia said...

I am nosy too. I love knowing things about people, really, really knowing things about them. It's the little things that tip you off, the small hints at a NOT so perfect life, or an addiction. Yeah, I'm like you, there's more to folks than meets the eye and if rifling through their garbage will give us a better overall picture, I say go for it. ;) Just don't get caught. I'm out of bail money.

Jen said...

I'm definitely the same way. I think my endless curiousity about other people is what drives my ever-lengthening blog feed list and my degree in psychology! I've always wanted to know why people do what they do, and I've always loved people watching.

I'm such a curious person and I have this amazing painting my step-father did on my wall. It has a cat with a broken tail and wounds on it with the words, "Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought him back." Love it!

Jade said...

I've got to say, I enjoyed reading this post, because I'm the same kind of "environmentally observant" as you. I just like to look at how others live, not judge it, just look at the differences, and it IS amazing what you can detect from just looking at peoples trash and surroundings. Even their emotional and stress levels.

I've got to say though, after reading that it makes me want to move to Belgium! I neighborhood in which people invite you in and you feel safe! Kids getting candy! People not answering the door because they know you're trying to sell something! LOL thats California...or at least the parts I've ever lived in. I think you paint a wonderful picture Tera. :-) And very cool that you cut your stack of tickets in half. Now you gotta sing your ass off to repay them for their kindness ;-) Hope you get your bike fixed soon!

tlawwife said...

You have just explained why I have always wanted yet hardly ever achieved the goal of at least one clean room, that being the one the front door is in so that when people knock on the door I can invite them in without having to find the couch.

tlawwife said...

You have just explained why I have always wanted yet hardly ever achieved the goal of at least one clean room, that being the one the front door is in so that when people knock on the door I can invite them in without having to find the couch.