I had hardly lured myself into getting out of the house that day. It seemed all too difficult, and having a doorman did not help. It was just adding to my anxiety of getting out and dealing with the world. I did not know whether the doormen liked to be greeted. I would not have liked it if I was in their place. I did not want to bother them. But what if not saying hello was even worse? How would they feel about that? Would they think “who does she think she is, walking past my gate without saying hello or at least nodding?” Should I ask them? Or if I do, will I be the subject of laughter among our doormen? I should just act casual, but I do not know for sure what casual means. Are the doormen bothered that their individuality is not taken to account while greeting them? Wearing the uniform and turning into a robot cannot be what they like. Then again, whose individuality is taken into account in their jobs really? Probably no one. Or, I don’t l know. The jobs need to get done. Do people have to disappear into their supposed character while doing the job? Do they like it? Are they used to it? Does it actively bother them? Or it razes them from within, until they no longer feel themselves? Does it have to be like this? Is it possible that everyone is fine with how things are, and I am the only one tiring my brain cells with such worries? Is it alright to talk to people about this?
I headed out of the building while thinking these thoughts. Luckily the doorman was busy talking to another resident of the building and I could get out with ease of mind. I took a look at my watch, and 3 o’clock reminded me of Sartre’s famous quote about it. Maybe not very famous, but it has been famous enough in my mind since I first read “The Nausea” 12 years ago. It says “Three o’clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do.” I thought probably that goes for the age 29 as well. It feels too late to start doing anything from scratch and make a worthwhile life, and way too early to retire and enjoy life while knowing death is in the corner. At that moment 3 seemed to be the perfect time for a walk. Who decides about the perfection states of things and times anyway? As my thoughts were getting out of control, I tried to use the new technique which I had come up with recently; it was closing unwanted taps on my mind’s browsers by pretending to literally tapping the close bottom. It was somewhat fun imagining my mind was like a computer. I was now free of thoughts, I thought. Then I thought about the fact that it is not possible to shut my mind down. The thought was followed by a question of whether other people could shut their minds down and stop thinking all together at times. I wished I knew how it felt being other people. I counter argued myself by reminding myself that I was other people to other people too. No one can experience being anything other than themselves.
I had to cross the street in order to get to my favorite park. Favorite based on my means and possibilities, which were many. There are two parks close to where I live, and I decided that the prettier one was my favorite. I made my judgement of its beauty based on the more shades of green it had. A judgement that seems unfair to me now. Beauty should really not be the basis for superiority. How about the other park’s character? Closed the tab.
I was now inside the park, mesmerized by the beauty of the trees, and almost extremely proud of myself for getting out of the house although I did not have to. It felt like I was on track of putting my life back in order. A feeling which I shut down immediately in order not to set myself up for a letdown. I closed the tab and decided to just be present in the moment and let myself be. I targeted one empty bench and walked towards it. A girl in a yellow jacket was sitting on the other bench. I thought it could be nice if I talked to her and made friends. She seemed nice, about my age, and probably lived close by too; which was a big bonus. All three of my friends were living in different continents and I could not share a real afternoon walk with them. Maybe she could be my friend. I looked at her couple of times, trying to exchange smiles. I was careful not to seem creepy and annoying. She sounded like she did not have a care in the world and she had no knowledge of my existence there. I decided to let go and just enjoy the serenity of the atmosphere. I already had made a deal with myself not to take my phone out of my bag, and let myself get bored. My hope was to get creative and think of a way to become something. Something more presentable to the world. My freelancer job was paying my modest expenses, and I liked the flexibility of my schedule. However, it did not leave me with anything worth presenting the world. By world, I mean my relatives and anyone who asked me what I was doing, throwing me into a lightweight short-term existential crisis which I usually would manage to get out of, after a long nap. As I was thinking about the illusion of becoming “somebody” which the modern world has put into people’s heads as a big personal goal, while its main purpose is to create more slaves for the jobs that are needed to be done, I heard somebody’s voice from behind. “Hi, can I sit here?” she said, with a bright smile on her face. I smiled and greeted her. It turned out that the girl in yellow jacket could not only see me, but was also interested in talking to me. Our conversation started in Turkish. We both assumed the other one was Turkish, until we exchanged names, which did not happen until after 30 minutes into our conversation. After learning that we are both Iranians, the fun seemed to decline drastically. She told me it’s her birthday, and she came to the park to celebrate her 19th with a beer and chips. “Oh you are 19!” I said. As would anyone else do, she asked how old I was almost right away. I played the old game of making people guess one’s age, which I normally hate. I think I did that in hope of seeming younger than I was. I could not be 10 years older than this grown up looking person. Her guess was that I was 23 or 24. It did not make me happy. Except for a very little bit maybe. She made an appalled face when she learned that I was 29 and married. I said if those who were born in 2003 are now in college, then I am officially old. I noticed her way to talking to me shifted as she learned that I am 10 years older than her. I remembered the time I thought 29 year olds are old. But here I was, 29 years old and feeling as young as I have ever felt. Anyhow, I took a tinge of pleasure at giving life lessons and passing old people’s wisdom to her for the next half an hour. Her being too young as well as her over-interest in horoscopes were enough reasons for me not to befriend her. It was still nice, or at the very least it was something humane. It was more than enough socializing for the day, or even the week, so I said I had to go.
On my way home, I stopped by the chain grocery store close by to grab some groceries. The person behind the counter said the things she always says, the things she is programmed to say. Welcoming me, asking if I wanted to buy any one of the discounted goods, processing the payment, and wishing me a good day. Neither I was important nor she. She was a robot, just as I am when I am paid to do anything. It does not matter who we are as long as the job gets done. I held back my urge to ask her if she was alright, and whether she minded saying the same lines over and over every day to every costumer. “It is probably not good to make people conscious about such things” I thought. Heading towards our building, I decided to greet the doorman and maybe mind his individuality with a smile. His expression was a sign of my decision being right, at least for that moment. I suppose there is no one all timer answer to the question whether people want to be greeted. It depends on days, and lives too.
Samira Seifi, an Iranian girl living in Turkey, holder of MA and BA in English Literature, has been a writer for writing’s sake since 2007. She has never published her writings publicly, and only a few trusted friends of her have had access to some of her blogs over the years. Most of her work is creative nonfiction written in stream of consciousness style. She takes refuge in writing.