01 September 2017

The Stories I See

My commute to NYC is not short, but it affords me the luxury of time to read. I read the inky, unwieldy Times, I read books from the library. I read long form articles that I print on the backs of discarded spreadsheets and copy drafts, because I digest paper words better than digital. I do the crossword, easily on Monday and sometimes with glee on Friday (though I occasionally cheat and check cranky Rex, justifying it as a learning tool - cheating today will mean more chance of success tomorrow.)

Today, I pulled a paperback out of my bag - not a library book, but something I'd bought at a warm and funky independent bookstore in Saugerties. Because it's mine, I felt no compunction about marking a phrase that jumped off the page at me:


"It was interesting to consider ... that a story might merely be a series of events we believe ourselves to be involved in, but on which we have absolutely no influence at all."


The subway pulled into 14th street. On the platform, I could see a 20-something couple, lips locked in a theatrical embrace, one of her feet in the air. They stood rock still, like they were posing, and as I exited the train, I looked for their photographer. But there was only me to record the scene.

Later, as I walked up Broadway, I mentally dress-coded a young woman 10 feet ahead of me. Tight black knee-high boots, black t-shirt, and tailored plaid short-shorts, her butt cheeks were visible at every step. Between us, an older woman in jeans delicately reached back and traced the arced outline of her own butt cheek. I wondered - was her action a subconscious reaction to Plaid Shorts? Or merely an itch?

The passage above, from Outline, came from a bit where the novelist/narrator is teaching a class in creative writing, and has asked her students to "tell me something they had noticed on their way here".

Reading begets noticing; noticing begets writing. I stand outside myself, etching stories into my head, speaking them softly into my phone, involved yet not at all.

When Plaid Shorts turned into my office building and got on the elevator with me, I refrained from commenting on her attire. Because her story is hers to tell and my place was not to interfere.

And yet I am involved.

3 comments:

Sarah said...

I really loved this.

Bibliomama said...

Yes, lovely. And at least she was wearing tights. :)

Bibliomama said...

Oh, oops, just boots. Never mind. Clearly I need Remedial Noticing Class.