What we dont see

They see us walk into the store, select an item, pay for it and walk out. Like so many times before. They either smile, say something nice. Or frown, look away, and shake their finger.  Or they dont say anything at all.  It depends on the person. The time. The place. The atmosphere. The day I suppose. What they see is not what always meets the eye.

What they don’t see is that I am clenching my teeth, holding myself back from unleashing on the next unsuspecting person.  That I am seconds away from letting loose.  What they don’t see is that I am holding his hand, probably a little to tightly, pulling him behind me. What they don’t see is that just minutes earlier I got mad. I let it fly, and said things that not only do I regret, but feel bad about. What they don’t see item I am buying is costing me money. Money that I make from working at two jobs, while trying to raise three kids that arent MINE. While wishing I had my own.

People take things at face value far too often.

The other day while I sat waiting on the ferry to take me to the airport to retrieve the kids, I sat across from a woman. When I saw her walk on I surveyed her bags. One medium bag on wheels that didn’t appear too heavy, because she picked it up with one hand by the handle. In the other she carried a matching bag that appeared to be empty, and a black purse. I wondered if she planned to take them all as carry on – knowing that they only aloud two bags. I didn’t put too much more thought into her bags.

She had a smile. A crooked smile that looked almost fake. Like she had set it there for the world to see. She looked like an overly giddy teenager in a full grown older woman’s body. I tried not to stare; staring is rude. But every so often I would steal a look at her. I watched her open her black bag, which to me appeared to be her personal Kleenex bag. I watched her take one out, then blow her nose, and it was then I realized – the smile? Was indeed fake. She was crying.

My eyes hit the floor. I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable, but I couldn’t help but notice. I wondered what her story was. Why she was crying. What had happened that demanded her tears to fall. She looked like the kind that would pride herself on not crying, and yet at the same time, she looked like a well experienced crier. The kind that can let the tears fall unnoticed. Without wailing, and slurping back sobs that draw attention. No sooner had she dried her tears from under her glasses, did more start to fall. Down her cheeks, off her chin and onto her shirt. Which already appeared to be holding earlier hours tears.

I wondered what caused her to cry. Her bags suggested that she had just flown in a short time ago. The baggage tags still reading when they had arrived in town.

I didn’t ask her what was wrong. Didn’t ask her why she was crying. Instead I sat there, wondering what had happened in her life to make her cry. Knowing that there is always so much more than meets the eye.

I didn’t acknowledge her that day. I didn’t say hello, or offer her an ear. I didn’t really know what to do, and so I stood up and left when the ferry docked, just like the rest of the people. I blended in, disappeared, and never saw her again.

When I walk in the store, I see people. So many people. All doing different things. Going different places, saying different things. In this corner a small boy begs for a donut. In that one a mother frantically searches for a quarter for her child to play a game. In the check out the cashier questions the woman ahead of me on each of her items – I learn from their conversation that she has guests at her house, and two kids who are going swimming – and will be eating chips for a snack. I gather from her look that she is organized, and likes to have things together. She likes to put on that she has a great life, and maybe she does.

So many people – everywhere with so many different stories.

What I don’t see, is what lies beneath the smiles and frowns. What I havent seen is what makes them so happy – or so sad. What I havent seen is their lives. Their choices. All I have seen is a small look into a small portion of their lives as they hurry by with their busy schedules, they have planes to catch, kids to feed, guests to tend to.

Everyone is going somewhere, doing something, with a different story.

Everyone has a story. A reason why they happened to wander into your life, or you into theirs. What I don’t see, what you don’t see, is the reason behind why they are there. People are so quick to judge, and point the finger. So rushed to get on with their lives, that they don’t see the woman crying. And if they do…they don’t know why shes crying…and don’t bother to ask why.

Its just another day.

Where people rush by, getting on with their lives. Moving on. Pushing by.


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