Posts Tagged ‘sonder’

It turns out it’s just made up, the word sonder.

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows says it’s a noun

that means, “the realization that each random passerby is living

a life as vivid and complex as your own … an epic story

that continues invisibly around you like an anthill

sprawling deep underground.” But it’s not made up,

the realization, as I noticed today at the pool in downtown Chicago.

I swim in a lane with an older man and a young obese woman.

For them, I will most likely always be nothing more

than an extra who showed up on the first clear summer day

after a week of rain, the woman in the black bikini and purple

goggles who shared their wide swim lane. The sun wove its light

through the chlorinated water as we swam back and forth,

back and forth. I would not have noticed them all, except

that there they were in my way and in my lane, though

I regarded them not only with small frustration but also

with growing curiosity. Who were they? What flavor

of ice cream did they like? Who had broken their hearts

and what were they sure they would never tell anyone else?

Were their closets clean or chaotic with hats and scarves spilling

out of uncloseable drawers? Did their mothers love them

or tell them they were worthless? Did they know how to fence? Or weld?

Had they ever been to France? Could they speak another language or sing?

I lived a life with them then, there in our lane where we never

spoke a word, our arms pulling us all in the same direction, toward an end

from which we always returned, though later not one of us would remember

who we shared that hour with, nor would we recall

how the sun shone so brightly, as if it were only for us.

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