Monday, January 17, 2011

Allies in Isolation

All sufficient materials have arrived to begin the official launch of The Estranged Stranger project.

But, you don't know what that means yet.

As of today, I have lived in the Washington DC Metro Area for approximately 16 months.  One and one-third years.  Moving here was my first time starting a life somewhere totally alone - no family to come home to, no guarantee of finding friends in college courses, no roommates to keep me sane.  Just me and my work.  And, throughout that first year, my mind constantly returned to one word: isolation.  I had never felt more isolated and alone in my life.

This is to be expected, of course.  New job, new city, new blah blah whine whine bitch bitch.  However, the place it struck me as being the most strange was whenever I used the DC Metro system.  Despite being crammed into a moving metal box with a crowd of strangers, I was still alone.  I could have my face in some guy's armpit (as often happens, being barely sixty-four inches tall), but our lack of personal space did not connect us.  Day in and day out, we all keep our noses in our books, our newspapers, our various cellular devices and newfangled music apparatuses.  Have we lost the ability to find human connection?

Now, don't get me wrong, I am no stranger to public transportation.  Having grown up just outside of New York, I am well aware that this is the standard operating procedure for scenarios like this.  A bunch of strangers shove into a high-speed metal box with the hopes of getting from Point A to Point B, and as long as you stay out of my fucking face we don't have a fucking problem.  Maybe it started seeming strange to me when I got to DC because I was traveling alone more than I ever had before.

When did we all start ignoring each other?  There are so many fascinating people out there.  What are we missing by blocking each other out like this?

This is where these little guys come in:

Business cards, in red and orange and yellow and green and blue.  A message on the back, an email address and web address on the front.  The web address leads to this blog.  The email address is an account specifically created for this project.  I will leave them at various metro stops and on various trains.  In theory, people will find them and email me something - anything at all! - and I will post what I receive to this page.

This isn't about my loneliness or social skills.  This is about what we've become as human beings.  If you are out there and you are reading this, I am interested in YOU.  There are thousands upon thousands of unique, beautiful individuals using the metro system daily.  They each have their own unique, beautiful hopes, dreams, fears, creative outlets, stories, memories, and I want to know about them.  Send me SOMETHING.

So, did you find a card?  Send me something at that email address.  I may reply back or I may not, who knows.  I haven't decided yet.  But what you send will be posted here for others to read when they find a card of their own, or happen to stumble across this page.  And, in our own strange and backwards way, we will be connecting with each other.

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