Entertainment, Katie McDowell

Behind every window is a story: Just imagine

Katie McDowell
Katie McDowell

A handful of mornings ago, during my workout walk, I saw a man step outside a house, onto to the porch, and bend down to embrace the woman sitting there.

 I’ve thought about it ever since.

Did they argue, and he was apologizing? Had she experienced a loss, and he was trying to console her?

Or maybe he just loves her, and he wanted her to know it. Right there,  at that moment.

This is the kind of thing that can keep me preoccupied for  days.

Whenever I take Moo out for his evening stroll, in particular, I am fascinated by the idea that behind each lighted window there’s a story. A whole, personal drama playing out in the hearts and minds of the people whose shadows I sometimes catch sight of — briefly outlined by the glow of a TV set, passing through on their way to another room, glimpsing out to see what in God’s name is causing all that racket (it’s usually Moo).

 The concept of all those lives, all those existences, all those end-all-be-all decisions, all those routines — so important to the people in each of those little cubbies of circumstance — happening at the same time, while my head swirls with its own ideas, troubles, current obsessions (a pair of amethyst earrings at Spencer & Kuehn, if you’re asking), weaknesses, successes, questions.

To be truthful, when I sat down to write today, I had no clear plan on where it would take me. That couple — or mother and son, or brother and sister, or any other myriad combination — was simply still on my mind and  I felt compelled to share it.

Maybe they had fought, but it was the other way around, and he was offering his forgiveness  as she sat bereft with regret.

 Maybe she secretly shuddered at his touch, having long ago lost the attraction  but too terrified to tell him.

Maybe it was the last time he would ever hold her, a goodbye before leaving for someone else —   her steaming cup of coffee  cold comfort as he went back inside to pack his things.

Or maybe it was just a sweet gesture. No more, no less.

Chances are I’ll  never know. That is what’s sort of excruciating and also kind of awesome about it.

I suppose this may all feel a bit “Rear Window”-y, but I assure you, that’s not my vibe.

For one, I’m no Grace Kelly.

 I can also promise there are zero binoculars involved.

Just a healthy curiosity and concern for my fellow man.

OK, that sounds ridiculous.

 Still, I have to believe it can’t be a bad thing, reminding ourselves that, despite our inclination toward self-centeredness and division — especially these days, it seems — everybody is a somebody.

They have favorite shows. They cook stuff for dinner. They want things. They’re afraid of things. They have dreams and nightmares and bedtimes and alarm clocks.

They pay bills. They get bad news. They achieve things, fail at things, take up  hobbies, end old relationships and start new ones.

They pet dogs and buy stamps and make deposits and withdrawls and, occasionally, perhaps, overdrafts. They choose clothes and tie shoes and grocery shop and get their teeth cleaned and use trash bags.

 And at some point — for whatever reason it may be — every single one of them needs a hug.

Katie McDowell is the managing editor and lifestyles columnist for The Dominion Post. Email her at kmcdowell@dominionpost.com.