A Stranger's Smile Is Large Enough

I'm trying to inject some kind of spirited energy into my life, but damn if it isn't more than a little resistant to my efforts.

Tired! Sick! Sober!

Nope. I got nothin'.

fall morning

The weather did finally turn around just like I predicted, though, so the world looked quite lovely and golden on my way to work to this morning. It didn't stop my body from trying to drip snot on my new coat, but that does not fall under beauty's purview. It really should, though. Beauty should do more than look good while leaving me feeling like utter shit. Where is its value, I ask you?!

fall morning

Still, it looked nice. I guess I found that somewhat soothing, even in the face of a day of customer service during which I would have to pretend that every movement did not feel like a mortal blow.

I kept trudging along, doing my best to feel hopeful, when something miraculous happened. A young woman passed me on the sidewalk, and, with no provocation on my part whatsoever, she flashed me a shy but happy smile. There was something so perfect about it – the lobsided curve of her lips, the brief glimpse of a few teeth, the way her eyes looked right into mine and then away at the brick building as her feet carried her by – that I forgot the weight of physical drudgery I'd dragged along with me since I'd woken up.

I turned, kneeled down, and took a picture of the sidewalk where we had passed each other.

kneeling on the sidewalk on the way to work

She was already gone, but it didn't matter. The picture reminded me all day that a stranger's smile is a kindness large enough to turn hopeless hearts around.

Of course, I was still sick and disgusting for the rest of the day, but I was able to drag myself through it with a lighter step.

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PS. I was made fully aware that my kneeling for a couple of minutes on the sidewalk downtown while everyone was on their way to work might be construed as a touch strange when I realized that a businessman was waiting behind me while I took the photo. He did this throat-clearing bit when he finally walked around me, and I think he raised his eyebrow a little. I'm always forgetting that other people can see me when I take photos. It's like how babies think that that no one can see them when they cover their eyes, only not, because I'm 37.

PPS. Now that I've given some thought to completely overthought this thing, I think that the business guy probably saw the young woman and I smile at each other just before I turned around and dropped to my knees to take a picture. He probably thought I was some kind of pervert trying to sneak an upskirt photo. That would explain the judgy tone I detected in his throat-clearing.

PPPS. I just want to make it clear that I wasn't trying to sneak an upskirt shot, in case you were wondering. Plus, I think she was wearing pants.

PPPPS. I just realized that if she was wearing pants, then he wouldn't have been thinking that I was trying to take an upskirt photo, so his throat-clearing was probably just throat-clearing and not some kind of passive-aggressive judginess, and I should really stop thinking about this now.

PPPPPS. Hot upskirt action!