People I Used to Know: Anecdote III: Bonfire

August 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

They asked me to go.

“We’re going to have a bonfire” – I thought it sounded fun

Four boys, three girls, and then there was me.  I had wanted to get along with the group, but with them I felt socially inept. Perhaps my personality was over-exaggerated or theirs simply too mundane- yet they were far more artistic and explorative than I will ever be. That is why I revered them so much- that is why I wanted us to be friends. For once, I, an outsider,  was allowed in.

The evening began in front of a quaint house: brown and tinged with the feeling of care without excessiveness in an average neighborhood on a curving street.

We raced. I lost and was teased by little sister- a small blonde with a big smile; she was golden.

I paddled on a skateboard in fear of my life as we lit sparklers of personality- I mostly listened and observed. The cicadas and smalltalk of wind in the trees and the chatter of long-time friends and the occasional car that would shoo us further along the side of the road. Then night came.

As blue faded from the sky we hopped in the car- an aged CRV where we played remixes talked about online, making do with the overcrowded space, making memories as dusk took the road over.

Turn and turn again in something of a maze of streets and trees- before we arrive at a roadside from where we walk. The side of the road turns to a narrow trail and then a mangled direction in the forest. We are not far from the hum of cars, but they would never hear us yelling as we trudged beneath the opening stars.

Weeds filled a path not wider than one of my feet and we move forwards, the trees opening up to fireflies- to which I used the corny simile “like one thousand stars”. And then as utility poles spanned across a flat treeless plain between us, the traffic, and lights far into the distance, we reached our destination: the rocky edge of a creek where a fire could be kindled.

Blankets were laid, food unfolded- hot dogs and smores, and people spread to collect dry wood. There were couples, and they went together, but when we all congregated everyone became their own unique selves. The unexpected guitar and the rhythm of a drying creek. Sparklers and flashlights in the night and candid pictures of memories only important to us. We stared at the stars until our eyes hurt and it didn’t help that I had bad eyesight but everything seemed so clear.

Hours passed and we left to the trail, leaving “nothing but footprints” and some fireburnt rocks to remember us by. I ran along, chasing fireflies and losing the darkened trail by a few feet. We followed whoever had the light, slowly making our way back to the place at the side of the road.

The car picked us up and we were back at the quaint house from whence we came. Conversations afloat and we connect once again. I tap my foot and smile one last time before the memory ends and I am in the minute after the experience- a minute of nostalgia.

It’s a bittersweet July in 2009.

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People I Used to Know: Anecdote II: Wheelchair

July 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

The gap between the end of classes and the end of the day grew smaller. I was now able to catch the sun beginning to set before class and after hour long blackboard reading sessions I would have to run to catch the last flicker of light.

Whenever I could, I would wander to the waterfront and experience the panoramic view of another sun setting.

One Tuesday as class ended, right in the middle of late fall, I quickly set out to set my eyes upon the last of the sun.

I ran the length of the sidewalk before it broke up into scattered intersections and overpasses. Halfway there and I see a man in a wheelchair at a busstop. He is african american and at the end of his working years.

He yells, “If you’re running for the bus, it just left!”

I yell back.

“I’m not catching the bus, I’m catching the sunset!”

he pauses as a pass then says

“If these legs could move, I’d run with you”

“I believe you can” I face him and put my hand over my heart “In here”

I ran on to the waterfront hoping to carry out my goal for the day, but the sun had already set.

I suppose it was slightly disappointing that I couldn’t carry through with what I told the old man, but perhaps he can be just an ounce more hopeful about this generation.

I want to be a magician.

If he had legs, he would surely have caught the sun.

People I Used to Know: Anecdote I: James

July 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

I once knew an artist and adventurer. Whether he called me his friend I will never know, but I would like to call him mine. I’ve asked the few who knew him- they describe him as ‘a new age hippie’ ‘a free soul’ ‘a wanderer ‘an adventurer’ ‘an artist’. No matter what people remember him as, he was certainly a curious anomaly.

As a first year in university, I believed in everything. I wanted to get involved in as many student organizations as possible and become a part of the academic environment as administrators had encouraged my peers to do in their perfectly crafted speeches meant to inspire an incoming class.

I recently walked through the art building-a place I thought my university ID wouldn’t be able to access but now can. The hallways are now silent except for the light puttering of rock music from a summer inhabitant in a small room near the entrance and the humming mixed with footsteps of another. I retrace my steps from over a year before on the first warm day of spring. The stairs I located from the emergency route map on the back of a classroom door. I did not remember how many floors upwards I went before, but I opened every door until the last hinges of the top stair seemed vaguely familiar.

‘Come on, follow me’ I remember the words echoing in my head, though not quite at the right tune

I turn a corner where the lines and dots on a wall are actually nails and string and before me stands a more memorable scene- albeit in more disrepair- yet the disrepair whilst still being in use gives the building an enchanting feel. Windows light the airy room with an open stairwell winding upwards. Empty lockers swing by signs that say ‘move out by 5/11′. Lockers which show use, with paint splatters and odd ended stains stand at angles one floor above, doors ajar and hollow. Desks carpeted in drizzles of color sit by a window with markings-a picture. I pass the stairwell to a hallway on the other side that I can only recognize because of how narrow it is.

‘This isn’t a place for pictures-it’s a place for memories’ and I knew he was right

I enter a room filled with white drawing easels surrounding a platform. I jump back as I notice two skeleton props upon it- one lying upon pillows and the other standing. I eye the door on the other side of the room, but turn back.

I remember catching me during my 2 hour break in between classes. We didn’t talk much, but he said

‘follow me’

And I followed.

Through the art building’s less silent corridors where an occasional artist or teacher would wander and up the stairs and through the less than comfortably sized hall into the classroom with the platform and white easels and light filtering through the windows and out the door on the other side.

shhh, it’s a secret place

The sun shined onto the square and gray stones of the porch. He walked out and stood against the barrier between the porch and five stories down. I enter slowly and silently, deciding to experience as much as possible on the one and only occasion I would probably be able to see the world in such a way- as a follower of an adventurer and artist.

‘Look’

I look down at a sent in the ground where a plant grows from, its leaves green with light and its back tall against the stone slabs around it.

In reflection, it was a weed but none of that mattered then- it was a plant thriving against a desert, an expanse of stone and cement.

It was quiet after that- he went inside to one of the white easels and worked on his art while I stayed outside and began to wonder about things which are beyond my memory. I could never pinpoint whether his actions were acts of kindness, curiosity, or the want of a suitable reaction. I snapped a photo of the plant coming out of the vent, though perhaps I shouldn’t have.

After a while I checked my technology for the time-my cell phone-and found my minutes were up.

Through the door I went and as I reached the door to the room with the platform and white easels I turned around.

‘Thank you’

He said it before me- but why?

As I clocked down the stairs, white noise grew louder and walls replaced windows. I was back on the sidewalk running to class.

I remember now why I was hesitant to check my cell phone- because he threw his into the ocean.

One who is on his/her cell phone cannot be fully immersed in a conversation- their mind is elsewhere in a state the technology has created.

That is what he seemed to say, at least

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