Staring out the window is an innocent pastime more people need to practice. I’ve stared out the window through all my life, throughout my academic years, at work, at home, and there’s never been a time when I’ve felt more present, more in my skin and living every minute in the moment than when I gaze out a window.
I’ve been called distracted, my head up in the clouds, Hey you, pay attention, but really…I don’t daydream when I stare out the window. Funnily enough, it’s the one time I don’t fantasize about anything, it may well be the only time other than sleep where my brain shuts off and I can just mindlessly stare at my surroundings. There’s a peace I can’t quite explain at gazing out the window, perhaps the metaphorical and literal sense of being high above the world, suspended, while everything and everyone else rushes to and fro. Like gazing into the ocean; you don’t have to swim in it, just sit back and enjoy the sand beneath your legs, the crash of the waves, the beeping of horns, and the change of hue in the sky.
In much the same way our memories of high school aren’t linked to being sat in class day after day, despite most of our time being spent in the classroom, my memories of a place and time in my life aren’t linked at all to staring out the window. Instead, those forgettable moments function more like a source of peace, to be used during and only during those instances of solitude and contemplation, vanishing once the solitude ends.
Did I mention how alive I feel gazing out the window, like a monarch looking over their kingdom? Such sights, such events to witness, like:
The gentle waving of leaves as a fresh breeze passes through the trees.
An insignificant car crash just below my window, where both drivers shout more abuse at each other than the actual damage done to their cars.
A random puff of smoke I swear came out of nowhere that dissipates in midair.
The capitalist fuck-you of a panoramic hair waxing ad depicting what essentially looks like an orgy directly in front of a Catholic school.
A lady running across four lanes that go both ways in the middle of a storm while wearing open-toed flats.
People entering the building through the exit lane and exiting the building through the entrance.
A group of men and women working out in the gym on the building across from ours.
A group of men and women in an art class frantically sketching their nude model with the windows wide open.
A girl in sports clothes on her phone just outside the gym throughout the entire class. Respect.
The changing of the seasons evidenced through the hue of the trees, the month their leaves begin to fall, the way they reach up, up to the sky with empty branches until spring.
A man staring directly towards us whenever I gaze out the window, hidden in the shadows yet silhouetted against the afternoon sun. Always watching, always stalking until months later when he’s been removed and it turned out to be the figure of a cardboard cutout.
That one car driving down the entire road in the opposite direction.
A fancy photoshoot of a woman in a leopard-print dress directly in front of a Subway.
A blood-orange sunset in the faint western horizon while we’re already covered in a cloud of darkness.
An absurd traffic jam at this hour, minutes before I leave the building and precious moments before the need to go to the bathroom hits me.
Nothing when a loud boom — a transformer blowing, I’m desperately hoping — rings down the street and against the windows.
That one old lady slowly, carefully, turning both ways before shuffling across the street when suddenly she whips her head up and stares, I swear, directly at me, despite the window film covering every inch of the exterior of this building, protecting me from wandering eyes, or so it should. How did she know? What does she know? What can she see through layers of glass and concrete? Suspended midway she stops and sighs, shuffling along forward as an icy dread washes down my back.
Back to work then.