A collection of happy thoughts

Over the past two weeks I’ve been taking mental snapshots, Cam Jansen style. Whenever I hit a patch of stress or exhaustion I like to bring them back to the forefront to remind myself to breathe. Disjointed and strange as they may be, I take comfort in these human moments and thought I would share them with you, in no particular order.

Every morning and every evening there is a young girl on this street (maybe 12 or so) who takes a walk down the block with her elderly grandfather. He uses a tall cane like a crutch and she holds on to his arm gently. They smile and talk and slowly move down the sidewalk as the city rushes past them.

One woman in the apartment building has a beautiful dog that looks to be a cross between a golden retriever and a collie. There is something strangely majestic about the way it comports itself. Every time I look at it passing by I feel as though it has an old soul.

This morning on the walk to work I encountered a hoard of middle school students waiting in front of a local hotel who seemed to be in the neighborhood for a marching band competition. Each school’s children wore different colored uniforms and many carried instruments taller than themselves. On the walk home in front of the same building the older women from the neighborhood were playing traditional drums and line dancing with mylar-fringed pompoms.

Over the weekend, sitting in a large pagoda at 日坛公园 (Sun Temple park), I paused my reading for an hour or so to do some people-watching. There were three older men in the pavilion wearing the red armbands of the community watch. They engaged in constant commentary of everything around them and it reminded me of the puppets in the balcony of the Muppet Show. At the other corner of the pagoda two even older men leaned against opposite sides of the same pillar, staring in opposite directions and saying nothing. They tipped their chins up towards the sun.

While on the bus, a woman standing right in front of me commented very loudly to her friend that there was a 老外 (foreigner) on the bus. When I turned to look her knowingly in the eye she was so embarrassed that she pulled her head into her sweater like a turtle.

I walked into my neighborhood convenience store one morning to the sounds of Lady Gaga. The only member of the family around at the time was an older man smoking a cigarette behind the cash register. Later that morning I (along with everyone else around) was treated to a complimentary shower at the bus stop, courtesy of the city worker who decided without warning to power wash the flyers from nearby telephone poles.

Bread Talk used to be my favorite snack shop. Turns out it still is.

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