There was an empty page in my diary and its emptiness disturbed me. Poor page, I thought, it must feel lonely. So I decided to fill it up.
I was thinking about that page while riding the tram one afternoon. Because of the traffic, my tram stopped as did a tram coming from the opposite direction. Looking out the window, I could see people in the other tram looking out the window, too. We scrutinized one another until both trams began to move and off we were never to see one another again, the temporary snapshot gone forever. Trams, trains, and buses provide us with so many transient moments to reflect upon.
In Agatha Christie’s “4.50 from Paddington”, such a fleeting moment occurs for Mrs. McGillicuddy who’s travelling by train to visit our friend, Jane Marple. At a certain point, a parallel train going in the opposite direction passes. Mrs. McGillicuddy gives a quick glance at the passing train and unexpectedly witnesses a man strangling a woman. She reports it to the ticket controller who, because she is an elderly female, doesn’t take her seriously. But luckily Miss Marple does and proves that Mrs. McGillicuddy really had seen a murder take place.
Advice: when looking out a window, be prepared for what you’ll see.
Amacord. Around 1936 I was on the bus to Chapultepec with Malcolm Lowry. We were both startled when the bus came to an abrupt halt. Looking out the window, we could see the body of a man on the side of the road. Not knowing whether or not he was dead or alive, we got off the bus thinking we could help but were told brusquely that Good Samaritans were not wanted. As we were being bullied, a petty thief pocketed the few coins near the victim and used them to buy a bus ticket. Then the police came and shouted váyanse de aquí (get out of here)!
Back on the bus, Malcolm and I sat in silence. That’s the way men are. When women really feel the need to talk, men become hermetic. So, while Malcolm was taking swigs from his little flask of tequila, I mentally started filling in my diary’s blank page.
Even though Malcolm and I and everyone else on the bus had seen the same thing, our perceptions of the event were all different. Because reality is something very personal.
In 1902, Einstein began working at the patent office in Bern. And it was thanks to the train station across the street from his office that he began to formulate his theory of relativity.
I first met Albert in the park where we both used to take walks. Like most great men, he was very talkative about himself and his theories. It was only because Albert was so simpatico that I would pretend to listen to him as we strolled together. But to be honest, I didn’t understand much of what he said. Plus it doesn’t take a genius to know that everything is relative. Nevertheless, some ideas were more intriguing than others. For example, after daily observation, he noticed that every train track had its own clock just as every observer has their own way of measuring elapsed time. Like the time it takes to wash dishes isn’t measured in the same way that it is for dancing a cumbia.
One day when I was feeling a bit down, I confided to Albert that sometimes I felt my life was too static. Don’t worry, he said, your life is always in motion because, even though you feel you’re not moving, the earth you live on is. When the earth moves, so do you.
As for my diary page, the idea that it was blank was simply relative to the page next to it. Problem solved, it was time to move on.
(from The Diary of Luz Corazzini, Cynthia Korzekwa ©)