Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Impressions and Meandering Thoughts of Not Much Importance

A writer sees things differently. 

I read on the train going to and from work. I notice normal things... like my book, who brought food into the small space, how likely I am to get a seat. Sometimes my book is so gripping I forget where I am a moment. Crossing the river one morning I wondered why it had taken so long to reach the river and what sort of day I'd had? I thought I was on my way home rather than on my way to work. The feel of realizing where I was and the day stretching before me was magnificent. I treasured each moment, like watching myself in slow replay. That type of revelation-moment is perfect for a story and I didn't want to forget any of it. I would write about someone who woke up from a dream - from a story within a story - and found themselves in the middle of a normal day doing normal things. What a shock. What resignation. What secret joy to have something no one else had... to see all those people who were just on the train while I had been a million miles away for just a moment,,, or a lifetime.  I wonder if CS Lewis had an experience like that on a train platform one day? Is that how the idea was born to slip into Narnia and back again while "normal" sat around waiting? Maybe.

Some moments come alive in all their mundane glory. I don't just smell and see and feel... my senses come alive and I feel like a... super-me. I see the varied shades of grey covering the sky, the number of swaying silhouettes between me and the sky that means I can't stare out the window without making someone uncomfortable. Lol. The guy sitting next to me who can't hold still. When he startles awake, I realize he can't hold still even in his sleep. His restlessness irritates me because he is resisting the holding pattern. A train is just a transport, a transition, a bubble of waiting... and some people do not wait well. Lol. I would move if another seat opened up, but none do and I get used to the pattern of his restlessness. He keeps me out of Blue Lily, Lily Blue, but Maggie's words are well chosen and the story has a soothing cadence.

I don't mind being damp from the rain although I am hyper aware of who receives the raindrops I shake off my umbrella. I find a way to tuck it under a seat sticking up out of my bag at an angle so my notebook isn't drenched, either. Some passengers carry a lot of stuff and don't notice who they run into... don't notice or don't care. Every car contains a young business man who tries to catch women's eyes... like a self-made stallion gathering his harem. Sometimes his conquests are more entertaining than the book I'm reading, but thankfully not on this trip.

I notice how wary the business crowd is of the floor and seat, as if it is beyond their dignity to touch either of them. They only do out of necessity. They add to the smudges along the windows when they fall asleep same as any passenger. The riders who catch a free ride, hoping no officer will ask to see their non-existent ticket, try to meet everyone's gaze, challenging, mocking, trying to gather attention. I was counseled to not make eye contact, to wear headphones and keep the music turned up. It's the acceptable way to ignore this blatant invasion of privacy. Sometimes I'm so good at it I only see a fleeting glance of something I wanted to notice.

There's a few commuters who ride the train from the end of the line, where I get on, all the way to downtown, where I get off. There is a moment of recognition, familiarity, real camaraderie. I don't know this person's name, but I know where he likes to sit and how he takes a different route when he exits. Maybe he likes to break up the monotony of following the same pattern every day. He walks right past my door some days so he might notice where I work, but I don't know where he works. We walk at the same pace. Like finding a semi you can ghost behind on a road trip. I like the way he wears his hat pulled low and walks like he doesn't care about anyone. I think, "Me, too."

My impression of myself changes daily, so I never know if I look as aloof and confident as I want to appear. Some days I might be the mouse I envision myself and I wonder if I'm awkward and clueless both. I wouldn't mind being awkward if I was clueless. The combination is romantic. I hate obsessing over my boots... whether they will be interpreted as "cool" or are obviously a few years old. I hate wondering who would notice the scuffs on them until I remember that I'd scuff new boots before I left the store. Because walking into objects is not high on my priority list to avoid. Maybe. Or I'm so distracted with all the personalities and scenery that I miss knee high obstacles. Or occasionally walls. Poles. Doorways. Pretty much anything inanimate.

Yesterday I earned a few appreciative glances and a greeting. It was unusual and made me a little wary and curious. I think I figured out why, though, when I put on my "coat" poncho thingame. The huge buttons on my sweater showed through the thin coat right over my left, uh... well. I think I appeared more, um, welcome of attention than usual. *ahem*  Not exactly the awesome look I was hoping to replicate daily. *snort*