I have a tendency towards messiness. I keep most of it contained, but my kitchen had finally gotten far enough out of hand to warrant a quick tidy and some dish washing. As I bustled around my miniature kitchen area, I happened upon a shot glass. Those of you who have met me know I am quite short. At five two, I can barely see onto the second shelf in my kitchen, much less the next two. It was as I felt around, checking for lost items that I found this novelty glass. It’s the sort of thing you would find in an airport in Chicago. It tilts to one side as if a strong breakage had happened by during its creation and the slogan reads ‘Chicago blew me away!’ I don’t recognize it. I’ve never been to Chicago though my aunt used to live there and I don’t remember ever receiving this as a gift. I can’t imagine it belonging to me, so I must assume it was left by the previous owner.

That got me thinking about the connections we have to the passers by in our lives. Whoever lived here before me I will never know. It was probably a single person since they restrict these studios to one tenant. I like to imagine she was like me: a reader, a bit of a homebody, interested in traveling and perhaps better traveled than myself, affectionate, and hopefully happy. Maybe she has family in Chicago and she left Seattle to reunite with them. Maybe she fell in love and moved to be by his side. Maybe she, too, rented this apartment specifically to entertain her gentleman callers. My conjectures mean nothing in the scheme of things, but dwelling on this gossamer connection reminds me that we are also connected to dozens of other people each day. The driver who cut me off also has a life and a family, a job and a home. The woman standing in the aisle at the grocery store is considering how best to feed her children and conserve her finances at the same time. The cashier at the drug store likely has no idea who I am but still flashes me a big smile and makes sure I had a good experience. All these people change my life in tiny ways, a little at a time. That driver has his counterpoint in the conscientious motorist waving thank you and both will change how I feel about myself, my city, and eventually the people that matter to me.

Caring for people who I am invested in is easy. My partner earns my trust and love very day. My girlfriends show me how much they care and invite my emotional investment regularly. My gentleman callers invest trust and time in my feelings of security physically, socially, and financially. Investing in these bright flames is easy and pleasant for me. It is the momentary interactions between me and people I have no reason to invest in that I consider now.

I often find myself negatively effected by those small brushes of humanity. They are in the way of me completing a task or returning home and that irritates me. Because of this other spark of life, mine is inconvenienced. It is hard to not only remember that these sparks are much like myself but to keep that in the forefront of my mind as I live day to day. The tiny connections we make every day are moments of opportunity to empathize or to resent and we can blame no one but ourselves for which we choose.