Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Beauty in The Breakdown

By the time I got home yesterday, I was sore, tired, I had to pee and I was vaguely hungry. I'm not all that used to coming home to an empty apartment--and I admit, sometimes I'll fret about it. But not yesterday. My daughter was sleeping over at her grandmother's, the other half was at work, and I had the apartment gloriously to myself.

The first thing I decided to do when I got home, was to write without any break in between. But I only lasted about a few minutes before I realized I was entirely too tired to do anything remotely constructive. I realized that I was already becoming frusterated, and that damned migraine was coming back again, so I decided to take a nap.

I slept for a few hours--maybe two or three and I woke up refreshed. I went and ordered some chinese take-out, ate dinner, showered, grabbed my pencil and I began to work on the outline again. Sometime during those moments, I kept getting distracted by Family Guy and King of Queens (which are both hilarious shows--to me at least)

While I was writing, I kept thinking about when I stood at the bus stop yesterday, waiting to catch the bus home. I was remembering how my arms felt empty without holding a baby in one arm and a stroller in the other.

I remember watching the same people day in and day out trying to sell stuff out of their duffle bags and purses, and feeling slightly embarassed for some reason.

There was a tall, skinny black man with a scraggly beard and bright, yet hollow eyes clutching a duffle bag to his side that seemed to weigh more than he did. He eyed me when I walked past and hoarsly whispered, "I got Dvd's and cd's for sell--3 for five dollars."
I had that smile. You know that smile? The one so false you were certain it would dissolve in water... and I said,"I'm good."

Then there was a lady, kind of overweight with that hard look in her eyes and the sort of face that may have been beautiful once. And she was selling her bus pass. She kept saying "Three zone bus pass for sale! Three zone bus pass for sell!" She seemed angry when she said it--she had one of those voices in which you were sure she could bully you into buying it from her. I could tell by the desperation and the way she moved that she was looking for her next high.

I've lived in this city too long not to be privy to the hustles played out everyday on the corner of North Broad and East State street. There are cats that sell packs of cigerettes for five dollars and there's always some amazingly pretty girl who's trying to sell you perfume out of her bag.

And I'm embarassed. I try to find things about this place that I actually love--and there's nothing. So I write about it. I take moments spent outside, and I create characters--broken down characters who are usually generic staples here in the Gray City, and I try to...I don't know what I try to do. Give them life perhaps?

But these people, even in a city that embarasses me sometimes, I use these people in a breakdown of the human psyche. I figure if I can pull them apart in my head (excuse the gory detail) and create a past for them (even if it's not all that accurate) I'll be a better writer.

So I watch them. I watch everyone. I make mental notes about them--take mental snap shots. Like I remember this woman who is of no particular interest generally--I remember her crossing the street, coming from one of the shops near the Commons, and the sun made her appear to glow and I noticed that the reflection of the sun on her shiny shoes look like they were on fire--just the tips of them.

And then the bus came and I thought of nothing else aside from whether or not I wanted to stop at the corner store near my house to get a pack of ramen noodles for dinner.

The time had come and gone and I ended up walking right on past.