I pass by lots of little things every day without ever really noticing them. Especially in a culture where we are increasingly acclimated to objects flashing, and glimmering, and making loud noises just to attract a glance, the subtle details ingrained into the world around us can fade into the background all too easily. And they tend to sit there until one day they hit me. Wow, look at that—has that been there this whole time?
Maybe this observation occurs because the light strikes the object just so, or just because something in its general direction was causing a commotion that caught my eye. But I tend to think that revelations like this happen more because, at that exact moment in your life, this object resonates with something inside of you. It’s possible that you don’t even know what the something could be—perhaps it’s just buried too deep—but I believe that the random resonance involved a little thing pinging inside of you, trying to get you to acknowledge it by what exists in your immediate surroundings. Kind of like the way that dreams try to help you process the problems bubbling around in your subconscious. So maybe it’s like a waking dream.
I might just happen to be a particularly oblivious person, someone who blocks out the world around them more than others, but these moments of revelation are a frequent occurrence in my daily life. Take the other day for example, when I drove past a building right on the corner next to Lulu’s Diner in Allston—a place that I’ve passed countless times traveling to and from the city.
Instead of letting my eyes trip over the short, red-brick building situated on the corner like they usually do, they focused on a little figure waving out from a window on the building’s side. I squinted, and it became obvious that the figure was skillfully painted onto the window, but I also began noticing the many other painted windows, each featuring their own vignette of the subject’s daily life.
In one, an older man peers out at the busy street below him, his hand shielding his eyes from the harsh glare of an imaginary sun. Directly above him, an orange and white tabby cat sits on a ledge and eagerly watches a fat pigeon flying just out of the its reach. The next window over features a mother holding her small child, both watching the cat and bird situation with amusement.
The vignettes continue onto the next building designated Allston Hall Block 90 by the subtle brick lettering toward the top of the building. Most are just images of the easily forgotten moments in life—a couple cooking together by the stove, a man washing his dog, and another washing his window—while some are more fantastic. A window to the far right depicts a woman standing in front of an old-fashioned microphone with spotlights shining down on her. It looks like a daydream come to life within the confines of one’s own apartment.
As the car passed the building in a blink of an eye, like it had done many times before, I kept thinking about the building, turning slightly in my seat and keeping my eyes on the side of it for as long as possible. The little windows captured my attention, but at that moment I couldn’t exactly tell you why.
My thoughts returned to the mural over the next couple days, and I began thinking about how open and friendly the people in the windows were. Sure, they weren’t real, but the paintings embodied a kind, open, neighborhoody ethos that has been a bit harder for me to find over the past few months.
Opening up to those around me seems harder as of late. Maybe this is because it’s second semester, and the peppy rush to meet new people and make new friends has faded. Or maybe it has something to do with the cold, which makes the option of staying bundled up in my room even more alluring. Smiling at someone in the stairwell, or making an effort to meet new people, seems like an exhausting course of action.
But really, it isn’t exhausting, and taking the time throw open your metaphorical window and interact with the world around should be more than a detail that fades into the background.
Featured Image by Madeleine D’Angelo / Heights Editor