Last night I was walking back from the Study Centre through Bloomsbury Square Gardens and stopped to once again consider what, at first, I thought very strange: dozens of people amiably walking around the park in the relative darkness, alone, not speaking to each other, not looking at one another; indeed, simply not acknowledging the existence of anyone else there. I felt as though I were an intruder, peeking in on and stepping through people’s private moments alone (with other people) in a park – their park.
I say ‘relative darkness’ because it is never fully dark in London; there is a continuous glow that hovers above, between and within all of the buildings, on every street, in every corner. It is as if there is a bubble above the city between the ground and sky, and the energy of the city below creates it.
This isn’t the first time I’ve walked through Bloomsbury Square Gardens late at night to see these people walking about in their collectively independent meditations. For weeks at the beginning of the Semester Tina and I avoided it for the very simple reason that we didn’t understand what was going on there, and therefore feared it. Who were these people? What were they doing here? Didn’t they have somewhere else they needed to be? Why didn’t they talk to each other? It wasn’t until last night that I came to my own conclusions about the answers to these questions, and finally resolved to walk through the park with my head up, taking in each person’s individual traits and peculiar habits – trying to more fully understand their purpose(s) here.
When I finally strolled through with my head up, I observed that most (if not all) of these people wore nice clothes, were clean, and posed no threat at all: this was their retreat. Most of them looked like business-oriented people, and my previous walks through the park at night had been too clouded by my assumptions about the dangers of city life late at night to make this simple observation. In this microcosm of the natural, pastoral world in the center of London, they find their solace from London itself. If only they could look up and see the stars without the glowing reminder of the city around them, I think they would be quite content. As it is they seem to wander about as if they are never truly free of the thoughts at the back of their minds of the city all around them, with its sirens and horns and concrete and buildings and people – even in their solitude, they are accompanied by other people.
I also came upon the realization that it is a mistake to attempt to understand people too completely, too quickly. It sounds obvious enough, but we tend to make the assumption that we know ‘enough’ about someone to predict their behavior, and understand why they do the things they do – when in reality, we only know most people in one, two, or three of the many roles that they play: the friend, the teacher, the professional. It is becoming more and more apparent to me that people are extremely diverse in their roles and behaviors, and their motivations for each. We tend to decide how a person is too quickly, and ignore or downplay behavior that differs from our classification of that person’s personality. Instead, I am learning, it is better to make the assumption that you don’t know anyone completely, and to strive to develop a more complete understanding of that person with each interaction. In this way, there is always something to talk about, and fewer things to argue about; after all, a great deal of misunderstandings and arguments stem from our assumptions about what we think people will do (based on an incomplete understanding of their personality), rather than simply asking them what it is they are actually planning on doing. It is a principle that needs to be applied within all relationships.
Moving right along – I swear, every time I step onto the underground railway system at around 5 PM I see in people the equivalent of the entire population of Yreka, Big Springs, Little Shasta, Mt. Shasta, and everything in between in the span of about 30 minutes.
I am working on a new poem and experimenting with the iambic pentameter sonnet (classic) style. There is a writing contest through the Accent program office, and I think I’ll submit it and see what happens. I haven’t written anything of that sort in quite some time (and never seriously in this style) so I don’t know what will come of it; if I ever finish it I’ll send it out attached to one of these messages.
Wednesday Tina Faris, Emma Jessee, Amanda Mahoney, Andrew Ringwald and I celebrated my 21st birthday at an Italian restaurant on Southampton Road named “Amalfi” with exuberant, authentically Italian waiters, and excellent, authentically Italian food. I ordered garlic bread, garlic mushrooms, and a tortellini pasta with, you guessed it, garlic. The waiter chided me a bit for my obsession with the stinky plant, and commented on my slimming chances of receiving any kisses from the lovely ladies I was with. I told him I only really needed to worry about one of them, and that she likes garlic as much as I do, so I wasn’t too terribly worried.
After he realized I was talking about Tina, he asked her for her order. When she said she would like the Cannelloni he said, very sympathetically, “I’m sorry,” (dramatic pause, during which time Tina’s face fell because she thought he was about to say there was no more Cannelloni) “there is no garlic in that one”. We all laughed and Tina ordered the Cannelloni anyway, despite its lack of the tasty stinky plant.
It was a very enjoyable day indeed.
Tomorrow our friend Christy Ferlatte comes to visit us all the way from Davis, California. Her stay should be fun – we’re thinking about going to Nottingham to visit Sherwood Forest and Robin Hood’s country. That should make for some goodly enjoyable experiences.