I have trouble quieting my mind: I am always seeing, always thinking, always weighing possibilities and analyzing the causes of things. This is an inherent part of what I do, and something that helps with my writing and photography, but it can also be irritating and intrusive. If there is subtext in a situation, I will see it– whether I would like to or not. I once had a friend in college who entered a room of some acquaintances, chatted with them a while, asked to use their computer to check her internet, and then went on her merry way, oblivious to the fact that they were casting her mean and hateful looks the whole time she was there. I discussed this later with another friend who was present at the time, and we both decided she must have a happier life for it. Many people loved her ebullient friendliness and lack of inhibitions, and she had many friends due to that trait. Those that did not appreciate it could not deter her, as she would never know.
Another area where my observation might be a problem is when I enter someone’s house. I don’t mean to snoop per-say, and I certainly don’t intend to garner private details, but I cannot help but observe my surroundings and collect information. Today I went to a house in Sutton Terrace (yes, a house!) for a brunch for the wedding I attended the day before. The house had a wonderful sense of lived in charm, there were knick-knacks and objects of art carefully arranged throughout. These were clearly layers upon layers of items documenting years of life, not just a one-time attempt at decoration dictated by a magazine or a designer. The living room was host to a Samovar lamp, and boxes and plates with Russian Lacquer painting, suggesting a Slavic connection; her kitchen was well used, with the fanciest appliances available, fifty years ago; and there was a plush monkey hanging in the doorway of the kitchen that wolf-whistled at everyone as they entered and exited. This seemed to be a woman who loved history and what was likely her heritage, cooked and kept a stocked kitchen, but did not need the fanciest new toys, and who had a great sense of fun.
My photo is of pictures that were staged on a side table in the living room seating area. My guess is they are of her parents and/or grandparents, and the initialed silver items likely belong to them as well. There is something deeply touching about a grandmother who is nostalgic for their own grandparents, like the opportunity to see down a line of heritage much longer than is normally visible to the casual eye. Hopefully my appreciation of the beauty of this, and the artistry of her arrangement, will make up for the fact that I could not fail to observe it.