In London – actually heading to Paris from London, currently in the Chunnel. Frank is across from me, Ipod in hand, reading mens health uk.
Even with all the time underground I feel like this trip, and this project, is about re-examining travel – paying attention to how everyone else pays attention to, or avoids their experience. Even now, on this fancy upscale train, most people are busy trying to avoid, at least in one sense, the experience of travel. They sleep, they read, they listen to ipods – something to escape the monotony of sitting and looking around. People trade glances, like a game of tag, except no one admits that they’re playing.
The windows, mostly useless in the chunnel, provide a writer like me with an extra sneaky way of watching other people. But search long enough in the reflections, and reflections of reflections, and eventually I find someone else – probably also searching – and we both look away. Whoops – found what we were looking for, but not that we’ll admit it.
Why is it so tempting to watch others when we know they won’t look back? It’s all natural, but somehow forbidden – can’t admit we’re watching. Can’t smile when we’re caught. Must pretend we are not human.