The Only Sport I Enjoy: People-Watching

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One of the best things about not being in America right now is that no one has asked me once if I “saw the game last night.” I loathe organized sports with a fervor similar to those monks of the Middle Ages who obsessively put ivy leaves over all the genitals on the Greek statues.

But my sport of choice? People-watching. It’s perfect because you don’t have to wear athletic clothes or sneakers to do it, you get to sit down and sip a nice coffee, and there’s very little yelling.

Ok, so in that way it’s not really a sport at all.

Sunset over the Acropolis from a rooftop bar in Athens Greece

But it’s incredible entertainment. You can watch:

  • young couples who are entwined intricately but somehow still moving ahead, albeit slowly, like they’re Tristan and Isolde under the influence of a love potion
  • elderly Greek grandmas with black head wraps and bags full of greens to make spanakopitas coming home from the markets who stop to feed the stray cats who throng their feet
  • an accordion player who is confused about his whereabouts who plays La Vie En Rose in the middle of Athens as his associate get chased out of your café by your waiter like a stray cat
  • a fellow café patron at 10:30 on a Sunday morning, who casually sips his beer and smokes his cigarettes and ponders his life in that way French men do so handsomely

As I sit quietly, sipping my café creme/espresso freddo/ pot of tea, I imagine their lives, their stories, their families, their dreams. Solo travel gives me ample time and headspace to get curious and imaginative about other people and their lives, and do a little fantasizing for my own life too.

I wonder what it would be like to live here, to become one of them, and what I would do here. Would this be my favorite café? Would I have an Athenian boyfriend with a neck tattoo? Would I join those grandmas at the market and learn to make spanakopita?

There are so many possibilities to each life, including mine. As I walk around a city, or sit on a park bench, or perch at a rooftop bar, I dream. I wonder. I imagine.

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