I don’t think I’ve been haunted by any one image from the internet more than I am this particular image of this particular girl walking down a Brooklyn street. I keep trying to figure out why it—and she—have been something of a mild obsession for me since I found it over a year ago and I consistently draw a blank. There are better things to look at on street view and significantly more attractive bodies with blurred heads lurking the side streets of major metropolitan areas, but this girl stays with me. I hope that by putting down my thoughts I’ll somehow get closer to figuring out the appeal of this picture, or at least exorcise the obsession to some degree.
I spend a lot of time wondering where she’s going; maybe it’s because she walks with such a purpose. I play the scenarios out in my head multiple times, and my best guess is the simplest: a girl gets up one summer day in 2011, puts on whatever she has lying around her apartment, goes to buys a snack. On her way home, the google street view car takes a picture and commits this Williamsburgette to the internet and here I am, more than a year later, writing about her.
Then again, it’s not necessarily that simple; I still end up writing about her, but she could be walking to her boyfriend’s apartment, her girlfriend’s loft, or maybe back to the couch she’s crashing on because she’s only visiting Williamsburg for a week from a small town in central Michigan. I have no idea where she could possibly be coming from. I don’t know, I’ll never know, and it’s this banal non-mystery: guessing the insignificant, pedestrian occurrence that was briefly interrupted by an enormous corporation that makes her more intriguing.
Obviously, though, most of my interest lies right there with the girl herself. Starting from the bottom up: brown untied(?) shoes captured mid-stride, her weird knees, her thighs rising upwards like ice cream cones supporting the blueberry sherbet of her almost too-short shorts, her purse, its string cleaving her torso in two and resting on her exposed left shoulder (there must be a word for the style of shirt she’s wearing, but I don’t know it), and finally, her face, blurred, unrecognizable, framed by her bangs (what if a Brooklyn girl didn’t have bangs!). And her cap—god, that cap!—adorning her head like icing on a trendy cupcake.
I spend a lot of time wondering what’s in that grocery bag. Look at the way she’s carrying it, slung over her shoulder with three fingers, so fucking suave, smooth as anything. I can’t get a good look at whatever shapes are outlined in the bag or the brand on it. I imagine it’s something vegetarian, but this is probably because I have particular ideas about the dietary habits of the women of Williamsburg, or did when I first saw this girl on street view.
I have a theory. Perhaps the reason why this picture haunts me every time I search street view (in a way, I’m always looking for this girl) isn’t because this girl is special, but because she’s almost entirely un-special, pedestrian in both noun and adjective. In my mind, she’s an everywoman for a particular type of white Brooklyn young person. Look around and you’ll notice this girl waiting for the L train this afternoon. I swear I’ve seen this girl walking down my street and shopping at the same stores I do. She’s any girl I’ve ever checked out at a bar, made out with in the dark, bored to death with a discussion of Paul Verhoven’s oeuvre. She’s the friend of all your friends. This girl has broken my heart at least twice.
I’m not sure how well that theory holds up, though. Even after all this, I’m still left with questions. I’m still thinking about her. Where was she going? Where did she come from? What is she doing right now? I wonder what she was thinking when the street view car drove past, if she ever saw it coming, if she even knew what the car was, that it would capture her at her most casual and put it on the internet. I wonder if I’ve actually met her. I wonder if she follows this blog.