Friday, 13 January 2012
Here are the instructions:
Writing Exercise from The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Creative Writing
Goal: To pinpoint some previously unexplored material that remains “hot” for you in some important emotional way.
What to do:
1. Scan back over your life and think of things that have stuck in your mind, but for no obvious reason. (No births or deaths, or other “important” moments, please. Go for the small ones.)
2. Render them precisely on the page using concrete details, beginning each one with the phrase, “I don’t know why I remember.”
3. Don’t try to explain why they stuck with you, or interpret the meaning of them. Just put your reader there.
I don’t know why I remember him so clearly. I remember the deep lines set firmly around brown eyes, the whites both blood shot and jaundiced, assuring me that, most likely, any money he acquired was spent on liquor. The leathery black skin of his face was framed by the M shape of his receding hariline and the peppered gray stubble along his jaw that centered chapped lips the color of bruised plums, all together making it seem as if the rows of perfect white teeth were somehow out of place.
Regardless of the season he wore navy blue coveralls blackened with the grime of the city streets and gooey with the stench of unwashed body and stale urine; the odor an independently tangible presence that clung to the air around him. They were of the insulated sort, the coveralls, like one might see on a mechanic. Only his face and hands were left exposed and the coveralls had zippered pockets here and there. Over his arms and legs, one on each of the upper and lower portions of his extremities, were t-shirts wrapped and tied like tourniquets with their frayed ends swaying to and fro as he moved. Their purpose was perplexing, at best, and yet one was left with the assurance that the various shirts were somehow as necessary to him as the unseasonable coveralls he insisted upon wearing.
A homeless Katrina evacuee who often sat quietly on the corner near the smoking area, watching with anticipation those who passed by in hopes they would leave the still smoldering remains of their cigarettes for him to pick up. Sometimes, from his position perched on the stoop, he would violently wave his arms in a style much like martial arts. Making those little sounds often heard from little boys playing, the expelling of air between the upper teeth and lower lip.
Pfft, pfft, pfft.
Some days, if he was lucid enough, he would gingerly approach, his jaundiced eyes averted, and mumble his desire for a whole cigarette. Again, if lucid enough, he might even tell you his name, or that he was a Katrina evacuee, or that he was the administrator of a space station and only waiting for them to retrieve him.
It's been so long since he last held court on our little corner of the street. Other faces of other shiftless sorts, who are unable, both by choice or uncontrollable circumstance, have since come and gone. Their faces are blurred by the passing of days and years.
But his face, I remember.
Tuesday, 10 January 2012
I often wonder what I would do if I didn’t have friends who understood my need to lean towards anti-social behaviors. I don’t really know why I’m such a hermit like person. Given the opportunity to socialize, I tend to thoroughly enjoy those moments, drinking them up as if I thirsted for them during the time I chose to hide. When finished, I retreat silently back into my shell, my little haven at home where I am freed from the conformities of social circumstance and obligation.
I’m left to speculate what occurrences have left me to be such a solitarian that I do not seem to react to the lack of social stimuli, regularly finding myself quite content to abstain from the typical social requirements of making phone calls, inviting others into my home, or even asking someone to go to lunch. Instead, I ensconce myself into my reclusive world and watch as others go on with all the things they think they are required to do as “normal” human beings.
However, were you to call, I would talk to you. If you were to ask me to lunch, I would go. And, in those moments I am there, I would be most happy to share those glimpses of my time with you.
My friends, who could all be so easily offended if they were to choose that path, all seem to take my quirks in stride and patiently await my emergence from my hidey hole. They enjoy their time with me, hug me tightly when we part ways and tell me not to be a stranger, comfortable with knowing that it may be a while before we cross paths again.
I wonder sometimes what makes them ok with who I am. Perhaps, do they too posses just enough of that hermit quality to give them a sense of understanding?
At any rate, I guess it’s all neither here nor there. I just wanted to take that moment to acknowledge that you, my friends, are appreciated. To let those of you I care about know, that your patience and loyalty don’t go unrecognized.