It was 9AM and too early to be walking there on a Sunday. Walking down Central Park West in a satisfied way, the way you do when you’ve finished something, when much of a city is still asleep, when it’s too early for blocking the box or street cleaners, and pigeons are still meandering, and sound and light rise like hot symphonies from the grates.
But that didn’t stop the looking. People, out to get a part of that morning — catching the best of it before the rest of us use it up. Looking. Some who passed gave an odd once-over. Unusual.
What makes one suddenly noticeable? What makes something suddenly stand out?
Grabbing the pole on the train home, regarding the stares of now others who joined, I looked down. Bronze medal and ribbon around my neck and still holding token wilty carnation, I was in running gear. Covered in awards that every runner gets decked out with when she finishes a mini race around the park.
The difference between other runners and me: I forgot to remove these before leaving.
In the park, I was one of thousands. But on the street, I was one, and just anyone. And they looked! These medals were no Superman. Earned or not earned, they were a signifier of something recognizable, a meaningful point system walking around. The lift ticket on the previous winter’s 1983 puffy down jacket.
What are the signs we intend? Often careless, labels, tags, stickers, lanyards remain as indication of where we’ve been or how. How are they being interpreted then or later?
Perhaps being conscious of that is the difference between walking and running.