A Wordy Summer

A self-decided summer project to respond to a creative prompt every day. Cozy up with some coffee and enjoy.

May 25, 2013: Death.

           In risking sounding morbid, I have caught myself pondering the aftermath of my own death on select occasions.  It’s a strange sort of indulgence: to wonder who will attend your funeral, who will cry, who will feel some sort of regret, who will painfully acknowledge a life without you the longest, and who will slowly move on.  It does seem that no time is long enough to mourn the loss of loved ones, that in considering the death of a friend or family member, the process of mourning should last forever. They both deserve and demand that sort of devotion. But that is not always the case. There is one thing I am certain of: life is determined to move. No matter how hard we try to re-route its track, it will always proceed forward.

            In my brief life, I have been fortunate enough to experience very little death personally.  For the most part, I’ve watched the lives of others be taken from afar, situated at a comfortable distance away, where it was possible to shed a tear of sadness for a stranger, then wipe away the remanence of heartache from the corner of my eye like it was never there. With shootings in abundance, it seems as a nation we have become almost numb to death, a truly horrifying reality. With each tragedy stricken, the time of sadness shrinks, so that it seems after a week or two of being mortified by the amount of loss, the daily routine of life is reset.  Healing has been transformed into forgetting and ignoring. Sometimes it’s easier to switch off the television, so that the pain of the world does not find its way into a sheltered heart. Sometimes it’s easier to avoid.

            It is my hope that in reading this, we resist the urge to avoid, even for a moment. To take a minute out of our busy, busy lives and remember those that have died, whether it is family members, friends, or a series of strangers. Moving on is essential.  Those that have been robbed of their right to live would certainly urge us to take advantage of the time we do have now. However, I do believe that every so often, they have the right to a minute of remembrance as well. 

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May 24, 2013: Write about something you see everyday.

Coffee

I believe in coffee like a religion.

The aroma a strong cup emits is quite possibly the most powerful scent a person can encounter.

It has the ability to violently awaken the heavy sleeper, as well as the unconscious soul.

Its bitter quality startles bored taste buds, providing an ounce of excitement before their day has truly begun.

The heat of the liquid sends an overwhelming warmth directly to the heart, accomplishing easily what so many humans struggle to do.

It is the most consistent friend, fulfilling its duty without resistance or strain.

I believe in coffee like a religion.

Many an intimate conversation have been held discretely in its presence, stories and secrets and heartache discussed.

Love has been sparked with its guidance, creating a believable reason to congregate.

Strength has been given to persevere through the day, a feat that is not always easy but essential in this confusing and tiresome world.

Friendships have been restored and built.

The movement of life is insured with every sip taken.

I believe in coffee like a religion.

May 23, 2013: Write about predictability.

I think we all fear predictability, as if it is a looming monster hidden in our soon to be realized future; a fate we cannot escape.  Perhaps we believe that age breed’s consistency, urging the development of routine and sameness. In some ways, this overwhelming expectance of a life subjected to boredom is not irrational. While we may be happy, it is very likely that we will fall into some sort of predictable setting.  As much as we resist it, many of us will go on to live average lives, lives vacant of adventure and excitement; lives that solely require the sheer act of living as their means of existence.  At times, I too catch myself dreading this reality, holding on to each dosing of spontaneity I am served, relishing in the luxury of youth, and remembering that days such as these are not set at infinity.

But as I sit and ponder a life of sameness, a determined thunderstorm violently unleashes on the earth, drenching the once thirsty ground and forcing the grass to quickly forget a time it ever craved water.  It reminds me that as monotonous life gets, some things will never be truly predictable. While we can predict when it will rain, we cannot predict how it will sound to each person listening to its music. To some, it acts as a natural lullaby, soothing their worries and assisting their trip into deep sleep.  To others, it is merely a nuisance, waking up their napping infant and becoming a backdrop to the dramatic wails of a baby frightened by thunder.

We cannot predict when a flower will bloom, so that one day we may rise out of bed and pour ourselves a cup of coffee only to notice the green bud perched behind the kitchen sink has started to open, revealing the faintest shade of purple and providing the smallest ounce of hope as we embark on our day.

We cannot be certain that we won’t encounter a smiling child on our way to work, gripping a lollipop in her right hand that has been smudged all over her outer lips, creating a ring of blue.  But if we do see this, we may smile because it reminds us of a time when the biggest concern in our simple, simple life was the sticky discomfort created by a ball of sugar.  However, we too may frown in recalling the same sort of displeasure.

We are fooled into thinking our lives can become predictable, but there is no way to know for sure whether or not we will witness a car accident, or see a group of ducklings cross the road successfully, or hear the laughter of co-workers and smile, or frown, or spill our coffee, or see someone else spill their coffee, or witness an impromptu dance battle in the subway, or pass a man walking with a bouquet of flowers, or hear our wedding song on the radio, or get a call that a friend has passed away, or taste the most delicious milkshake at a trashy highway diner, or live a day exactly the same as the one before.

Predictability is a myth, really.  That’s life’s greatest gift.  No matter how bored we may find ourselves, how static we perceive our lives to be, no day can possibly be exactly the same as the last. In fact, that’s the only thing we can truly predict.

May 22, 2013: Write about road maps.

My sister, Melissa, used to want to be cartographer. I think that’s what they call it.  It’s the name for a person who creates maps. Obviously, she did not know the fancy name, but she use to grab scraps of paper, post it notes and gum wrappers and anything she could put a pencil to and draw elaborate scribbles. She then would give these papers to my Mom or Dad and proclaim that this was a map of the world.  It was heart warming and adorable, and beautifully simple. If only the map of the world could fit on a yellow sticky note, think about the travel that would be feasible.

I must admit, I cannot remember the last time I looked at a map for the purpose of travel. With navigation systems and Iphone GPS, I can virtually get anywhere I need to go with the help of TomTom or Siri.   I can take the quickest route, avoid particular highways, and even add the location of a midway restaurant in minutes, insuring that my trip is planned to a T.  It’s a luxury I utilize often, and similarly, would hate to give up.

However, there is something freeing about a map. Ironically, maps afford us with the ability to get lost. It is possible to read a map incorrectly; to venture into a territory you had not expected to see; to take a wrong turn and be challenged in the act of re-routing.  Without a virtual voice repeatedly stating, “Missed Exit” or “Turn around when possible,” getting lost becomes an unpredictable adventure.

Even at a young age, my sister was fixated on the idea of exploration. While she explored the deep crevices of her own youthful imagination, we are capable of exploring the tucked away roads that scatter our country, if only we gain the ability to abandon our innate fear of loss of direction.

May 18, 2013: Write about a place you know, but not well.

            There is a place that surrounds me immensely, that is truly in abundance wherever I go. It is not a singular, isolated place and you cannot reach it by car, train, boat, or plane.  In fact, it is not a destination.

            Many have been there, seen it in all its wonder. But many have not, just the same.  From what I understand, it’s a place of real beauty. 

            Evolving like a garden, it moves and changes with time.  It has the ability to warm even the coldest of hearts, and to bring hope to the most lost of souls.

            It is exciting and new and old and fresh and lovely and splendid and happy and sad and heartbreaking and perfect.

            It is everything.

            It is love, an awe-inspiring place of love.

            And I have never been. 

May 17, 2013: You’re in a hotel lobby.

Fiction

          I can remember the first time I stepped foot into the Plaza Hotel.  Situated on the corner of 59th street, directly across from Central Park, my preteen eyes had been fixated on the awe inducing building for the entirety of an afternoon walk with my Grandfather. He was rambling on about the flaws in the public transportation system, claiming that the trains were simply ‘Too packed. Just too darn packed.”

           I don’t know if he expected me to respond, considering I was a mere eleven years old and this was just my second time being in the heart of the city.  I think he was just content to have someone there to listen, a youthful soul to hold his rough hand and pretend to care. That was perfectly fine with me.  I was busy admiring.  It seemed that I could not pull my eyes away from the hotel. Something about it was utterly captivating. Even at such a young age, I recognized that there was a history there, something magical.

          My Grandfather soon realized I was paying very little attention to his dramatic rant.

         “What are you looking at, darling?” he asked in the most interested way. Even he could tell I was mesmerized, and maybe he thought for just a small moment, he too could experience the constant enchantment of a child’s life.

         “The Hotel, Grandfather. Its so…so….” I struggled for the proper adjective. It seemed that nothing could truly describe its splendor.

         “Can we go, oh please Grandfather!  Can we go and just take a peak inside?” I pleaded with all my might. Typically, he was a stubborn man. A man that had a plan and stuck with it, and I was well aware that todays plan included the quickly approaching train back to my parents house in Westchester. But to my surprise, some of my excitement seemed to persuade him.

          “You know, Isabel, I just happen to know someone who works in that hotel. It is quite possible that she may be working today. Lets go.“ He grabbed my hand and tugged eagerly, with a subtle yet recognizable flash of light in the depths of his eyes.

           As we approached the entrance to the hotel, people scattered the sidewalk, making it that more difficult to get to the entryway. They tipped doormen, juggled bags galore, and anxiously flagged down each scarce taxi -cab.  The revolving door didn’t cease for a moment: people constantly entered and departed. My heart ached for those leaving: their stay had ended.  For a brief moment, I felt a sadness come over me. Such a majestic place was only a place of residence for visitors temporarily, never being granted the opportunity to fully discover that unique love between family and home.  The feeling escaped me quickly, however, as I was bombarded with an overwhelming scene of grandness.

           The hotel lobby was a vision of perfection.  Marble floors and columns somehow gave off an air of warmth and excitement, despite the cold quality they had to the touch. Gold accents lined the building from head to toe, and well off guests shuffled and laughed without a care in the world. Even then, I felt like the streets of Manhattan and every other place in this ginormous world could not top the emotion this room evoked. At just 11 years old, I had fallen in love.

             I became so engulfed by the allure of the room, I hardly noticed that my Grandfather had disappeared to the check-in desk. He was conversing with a woman, an older woman, with eyes that looked distantly sad and newly happy, all at once. 

            “Isabel! Come here, darling.” My Grandfather waved me over. “This is Mary. We knew each other a long, long time ago. Where have the years gone?”  He was oddly excited, I thought to myself.

            “Eleanor told me you were working in the city, I just haven’t had the time to stop by,” my Grandfather explained to Mary. She forced a toothless smile.

            “Yes, well I know how busy Eleanor keeps you, Jonathan.”  The words came out sharply, but before he could respond, Mary was grabbing my hand and leading me to a winding staircase.

            “Would you like a tour of the hotel, Isabel? Your Grandfather has told me you have quite the fixation with this beautiful piece of the city. Good taste, might I add.”

_________________________________________________________________________________________

            On that day, so many years ago, I was granted the opportunity to take a journey through a fantastical world. Such a beautiful, affluent reality the hotel helped to maintain. My young innocence could see no wrong, not a single flaw in all its existence. I was naïve to the secrets it hid. The way that such a large, cornerstone of a city had the potential to house so much corruption. After all, what happens behind the lined doors of a hotel embodied by greatness is a mystery to all, for glamour and fortune can certainly keep a blinded innocent distracted from the wrong doings that are in reality, just the touch of a hand away. 

 

May 16, 2013: Ten years ago…

            Have you ever thought to yourself, “Where was I ten years ago?” Clearly, this prompt has made me consider the idea. Currently, I am the ripe old age of 20, which means that 10 years ago from today, I was exactly 10 years old. Nothing like some coincidental parallelism to get your juices flowing. 

            In pondering the idea a bit more, I realized that right now, ten years feels like an eternity. It’s a decade, after all, and considering I have only lived two decades in my young life, one whole decade is a pretty significant amount of time. But, eventually, ten years is going to seem like a minute. As we grow, our perception of time will shift. Really, how different do you think your parents will be, in aging from 40 to 50? I know mine don’t seem that different at all. Yet so much has happened. Does life become less significant as we grow? Are we moved less, and static more? Is the concept of age really an oppressive reality? Change is for the young. It sure seems that way, especially when I think about my Grandparents. Don’t get me wrong, they are all gems, each and every one of them, but permanent gems. Gems that speak the same and think the same and, simply, are the same.

            So then, when do you hit that point of sameness? Right now, I’m as malleable as clay. My mind moves and changes faster than I can even realize, so that often I find myself wondering when exactly I started to sympathize fiscally with republicans or prefer literary acclaimed works over trashy chick-lits. Some may just call it growing up, which it certainly is. But when do you stop growing up?  There’s no concrete line.  No calendar date you can reach where you are handed a piece of paper with a grand signature, and some graying man says, “You are now, officially, grown up” in a deep, important voice.   I think being a “grown up” is a mindset, an alteration of the brain. Maybe it’s a trick. Just like a magician deceives the audience about reality, growing up is a deception, and it has the masses to strengthen its believability.  I always thought, “Everyone grows up. They have to.” But maybe they don’t have to. Maybe I and you and we do not have to grow up.  Maybe we can reject the trick and stay dynamic forever.