Every piece I set out to write leads me in a new direction, and it scares me to sit down without a clear plan, with only moments and people: only the redhead in the white skirt, the two baristas with tribal plugs in their earlobes, the young woman with an infant, the baby passed from girl to cooing girl. A couple approaches the coffee shop - she with dyed pink hair and matching pink shoes and skinny jeans, he with wild hair and skinny jeans - and a guy with patchy facial hair and pierced septum whispers "hipsters" before they open the door. An older man talks to the hipster guy about his job hunt.
Middletown is quiet, but the people are loud. They are spaced wide, so I hear every word. I wonder if my face is doing the right thing, if my California manners show. My swallowed words, my quiet voice reflects as rude here, forcing people to lean in, say...What?
I don't really know what to write about, only that I have to write, and hope the practice sets itself in my hands, my brain. I need to describe the man with gray whiskers and watch cap and long army green coat. His eyes look confused, jumping. My quick-judge brain says: homeless, but he buys a coffee and leaves again.
Judging! says barista #1. Stop judging! as though he hears my thoughts, but he isn't talking to me.
Every town, every town in the world, is full of people I know. Every face is familiar.
I am reading fairy tales by A.S. Byatt. At the end of one story, the youngest princess is given a choice: a magic mirror that would show her true love, a magic loom that would weave tapestries of living forests, or:
'Or I could give you a thread,' said the Old Woman, as the Princess hesitated, for she did not want to see her true love, not yet, not just yet...and she did not want to make magic Forests, she wanted to see real ones. So she watched the old lady pick up from the grass the end of what appeared to be one of those long, trailing gossamer threads...
'You gather it in,' said the Old Woman, 'and see where it takes you.'