Yes, Death. Death must be so beautiful. To be in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no to-morrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace.
Things we never had: rules, a clean house, a minivan, family vacations, professional portraits.
The precise moment at which this little boy heard sound for the first time.
It is a single snapshot: I was about a year old, and my mom was holding me over the bathroom sink because I was throwing up. But I don’t actually remember throwing up — what I remember is looking in the mirror and recognizing myself, and seeing that there was vomit on my chin.
Oddly enough, to this day I’ve had a terrible and irrational fear of throwing up.
The cafe on Sunset Boulevard felt old-fashioned and romantic to newcomers. Its door was often propped open with a brick to let in the air that smelled distinctly of hot pavement, except on rainy days, when it smelled distinctly of wet pavement. Through the open door, customers could watch the pedestrians coming and going on the crosswalk, and the cars that waited at the red light.
It was still early in the evening, but even with the drizzle the door remained open, making the room feel damp. The customers watched the light rain in the headlights of the stopped cars.
A young girl was visiting the cafe for the second time. As she entered, she spotted a man in a black trench coat sitting at the corner table. He was reading his newspaper. She sat at a table facing the open door, sighing after smelling the slightly bitter scent of wet coffee grounds. The music was quiet and French. She assumed a languid pose and smug look, lifted her chin and looked out the door through delicately narrowed eyes. She felt the gaze of the handsome man in the black trench coat. The couple that was sitting behind her must have been watching her as well.
She made a few movements, then got up from her seat to order at the bar. The pretty girl smiled. The barista watched her, uninterested and waiting for an order.
“Hi, a cappuccino please?”
“For here or to go.”
“Um, for here.”
The customer took out her wallet and politely handed over the exact amount. The barista put it into her cash register and gave the young customer her receipt without looking at her. The pretty girl sat down to wait, tracing her fingertips over the smooth ridge of the table. She rested her head on her hand, still feeling the gaze of the young man in the corner.
An older man entered the cafe. He ordered a coffee and sat at the table next to her. “Funny weather for July, idn’t it?” She looked at him and smiled. His white hair was sprinkled with water droplets, the shoulders of his jacket damp as well. “Yes, very funny weather.” The barista called out her order. The girl brought it back to her table and sipped on it quietly. “I tell ya, in all my years I’ve been living here I’ve never seen it rain in July.” The girl laughed softly and politely. The talkative gentleman looked out the open door, suddenly deep in his own thoughts.
The girl was certain the young man in the trench coat had heard their conversation. He must have been watching it, too. She sat so he could see her profile, which she thought was pretty, and made a thoughtful expression with her eyebrows. The pretty girl drank her cappuccino, imagining it was made the same way they are made in Europe. She looked blankly at the floor in front of her. Occasionally she rubbed her finger against the mug’s handle. She cleared her throat gently and shifted positions to look out the open door again. She watched the people coming and going on the crosswalk, thinking about the city, and the cafe, and she thought how she wanted it all to belong to her, and how she wanted to belong to it all. She wanted to come into the cafe every day and sit the way she was sitting, with the handsome man watching her.
The pretty girl got up to go, clearing her throat as she collected her things. She said goodbye to the barista, loud enough to be heard over the sound of the coffee grinder. The barista did not reply. The older man looked up at her with half a smile, waiting for her acknowledgment. She forgot he had been sitting there. With her bag under her arm and her umbrella ready, she shot one last look at the handsome man, eyebrows raised and lips lightly pursed. He was reading his newspaper.
With a vertical crease down the left side, her face is skewed and almost missing. Even before the old photograph was bent, no one had noticed her there.
She stands rigidly next to but apart from three young women. Among beaming faces, poised backs and straight teeth, she is caught halfway to a forced, closed-mouth smile. The other three look boldly into the camera, inviting with their laughter and gaiety. But her eyes are wide, looking beyond the camera’s lens. They are gently placed on nothing, and perhaps in her mind she thinks of nothing as well.
Her soul is light, but heavy in its melancholia. Yet with the weightlessness of her fluttery sleeves, the imperfect bows on her saddle shoes, and the seam in the back of her nylons, she might just drift upwards, float higher and higher until she disappears in the glare of the sun.
Like a helium balloon without a weight, she is tied to nothing on earth. Even in her heaviness, she can simply float up, her sleeves fluttering in the air, until all that weighed down her soul silently bursts into a million pieces that fall from her like confetti floating to the ground.
One day, when no one is looking, she might just drift upwards, and no one will know she was ever there.
I wanted to write something tonight simply because I remembered I had a blog and that its purpose was to be written in.
I wrote about one thing, then erased it, changed the subject, wrote, and erased again.
It seems impossible to write without any inspiration. Inspiration used to find me every day, but it seems my rigorous studies in school squeezed out the remains of my creativity.
Years ago, it would overwhelm me, and I would need to write something down immediately. Words would start swishing around in my head, and everything I saw, as I was driving, walking, or sitting, became beautiful and worth writing about. Everything could be made into poetry. Everything could be profound and equally meaningful in its meaninglessness.
I hope this state of mind finds me again. I hope it was not just my adolescence, but that it strengthens with age.
OK, I’m going to try this now. My other one was boring and I never signed in. We’ll see how long I stick with this.