There’s something beautiful about living in a growing city. The mystery that it is to walk alongside strangers, passing them as you continue on your way – becoming a part of their life for a brief moment. Strangers to you, yet the loved ones of others. Strangers, each with their own story; a story that wishes to be shared with the world. Strangers, each with unique and complicated lives – beautiful lives – that you get to be a part of if even just for a passing second. There is something beautiful about all of these people, these breathing souls that we have labeled as strangers.
When I was little I liked to sit on floors. Especially during the summer, when the sunlight would beam through our windows and leave spots on our hardwood floors. I liked to sit in those spots. I liked to run my hands along the warmed wood and try to lay so my whole body was covered in the sunlight. I liked to trace the edges of the spot with my fingers. I still like doing that.
I smiled at a stranger. She smiled back. That made my day.
Water dripping from a gutter; puddles in the street; window panes; squeaky old wheels; the ocean; sleeping bags; cold wind that chapped my face; the stillness of museums when they first open in the mornings; apples; thick books; globes; the color of the sky after rain; the flickering glow of candles; embroidery hoops; Nancy Drew books; dusty chalkboards; the beam of light through a window; places that echo; wooden crates; tree stumps; fish tanks; bookshelves; ribbons; the Lawrence Welk show; the quilt my Oma made me; and my Opa’s soft voice when he used to read to me.
“I’m so tired,” I said, staring up at the ceiling.
“Me too.” he sighed. We laid sprawled out on his living room floor, our homework in disarray around us.
His house always smelled of ginger and old books and peppermint. We always did our homework together in his living room Sunday evenings. Ever since we were little, when my mom used to drop me off and we’d sit on the carpeted floor with our books. When finished our homework, we would help him mom cook dinner in the kitchen. We were usually more of a mess for her to clean up than any help.
“You know what makes me happy?”
“What?” he asked, turning over onto his stomach to look at me.
“Irish folk music.” I giggled and put a hand over my face. Isaiah started at me with his dark brown eyes, confused for a second until is lips parted and a heartfelt laugh escaped them. He rested his cheek on the floor and smiled.
“You are such a dork.” he said. “especially when you’re this tired.”
“I know!” I laughed.
They laid on the carpet of her bedroom floor, bundled in hand-made quilts. Their soft whispers turned to loud bursts of laughter every once in awhile, unsettling the calm of the house. They gazed up at the ceiling, their hands and hair intertwined. Time seemed to slow as they poured out all of their troubles and worries and their biggest secrets. Nothing else mattered. When one would talk the other would listen, softly stroking back the curls on her forehead. Their voices got quieter and quieter, till their worries were gone and sleep washed over them.
It was pouring all day. Everything was inky gray, as if water colors had spilled all across the clouds. Even though it was August there wasn’t a patch of sunlight peaking through the thick damp sky. Clear, cold water an inch deep ran down the sides of the road. My feet were soaked as well as my hair. Every inch of my skin was cold and wet. It was wonderful.
I find a comforting beauty in the bustle of a city. Immersing myself in the pulse of the streets, I become a brief portion of a stranger’s day. I like to gaze through the windows of coffee shops and watch the quiet movements of the people sitting behind them, inventing my own scheme of what their lives must be like. A small young woman, an aspiring artist, sits in the corner. Her gaze is lost somewhere only she can see.
My own thoughts trail. I imagine what these streets must have looked like fifty years ago – if they were as busy and filled with life. I wonder what must have occupied these old buildings before they were refilled with new people and new things and what they must have been like brand new. There was a time where people came here and saw their future.
I lived with my grandfather for two years in Lyon, France. We lived along the river Rhône in a small apartment on the fourth story of a quaint building. I shared my small bedroom with my grandfather’s dog – Cherché. I gave him that absurd nickname when I was only four years old, and it stuck. From my bedroom window, I had a perfect view of the river. The apartment was always cold, and it always smelled like coffee and his tobacco. It was my home for two years, and I have only fond memories of the place.
Free Verse – Colorful
It pours in before my eyes,
dancing and spinning.
Colors flood in,
coming in waves or streaks –
drops or splatters,
fading and changing shades.
It floods onto the page,
each note a different color,
each measure a different picture, each phrase a different story.
I see people.
I see places.
I see color.
I see music.
I can hear them sing as I walk down the corridor in the congregation hall beside them. Their voices resonate through the cathedral. I reach the door leading to the flight of stairs descending into the entrance of the cathedral. Their voices become louder. I sit down on the red carpeted stairs, my head resting against the railing. I listen. Afternoon light pours in through the stained glass windows giving the room a warm glow. Their voices soar and then soften like waves. The words they sing – a painfully beautiful poem:
“Warm summer sun,
shine brightly here,
Warm Southern wind,
blow softly here,
Green sod above,
lie light, lie light,
Good night, dear heart;
good night, good night.”
The autumn air was pleasantly warm. The city was alive with color and lights and an indescribable energy. I crossed the cobblestone street from my apartment into Les Tuileries. The trees were a beautiful golden orange under the lamp light, and in a distance I could see the Eiffel Tower, lit up and sparkling against the dark blue sky.
It was a freezing cold morning. The air was damp and cold, the sky a drowsy gray. My oversized rubber boots rubbed against each other and squeaked as I followed behind my uncle along the dock. The dock lurched and rocked as small waves came up and pushed against its side. I looked down between the cracks in the dock and watched the waves dissipate underneath. I walked unsteadily, wary of the creaking boards. Catching up with my uncle, I grabbed hold of his hand to steady myself as we walked to his boat. His little skiff was tied near the end of the dock, calmly bobbing up and down with the waves.
The wind had begun to pick up, whipping my hair into my face. Stepping into the boat, my uncle turned around and lifted me in beside him. We hadn’t exchanged any words since we had arrived at the bay. He zipped up my coat all the way to my chin and pinched my nose. His hands were huge and rough. Untying the boat he started up the motor and pushed off from the dock.
The icy morning was enveloped in fog, the morning sun glowing ever so slightly through it, a pale orange. The boat got faster and faster, spraying water to the side and bumping up and down on the waves. I leaned over to the side of the boat and dipped my hand in, cutting the water as we raced past.
As a coastline appeared inch by inch my uncle slowed the boat. We neared the beach and fog gave way to tall dark trees looming above and a grassy sand mounds. He beached the boat and I hopped out, looking back at where we had come from, no longer visible through the fog.
“And sometimes her voice would play over in my head, like a broken vinyl, and I just couldn’t let go.”
~ another excerpt from my eighth grade writing notebook.
“and at that moment, I did something so feminine – so girly – something I had hoped would never escape my lips; I giggled”
~ and excerpt from “Gone Darling”
Six Word Story Attempt:
Barefoot she stood. Then she jumped.
Memories do fade,
Like seasons in their due course.
Clear images as they were
Fade like flowers,
Losing their bright colors,
To weather and age.
To weather and age
Do leaves lose their soft touch
Like the loss of color
To memories of old.
To memories of old,
Like autumn to flowers,
Time tears their soft petals and pushes them
Back to the corner of our minds.
And as snow to gardens and dewy lawns,
New memories cover up the old.
New memories cover up the old,
But in time a few old memories
Spring from murky depths,
Like snowdrop flowers in April rain.
Like snowdrop flowers in April rain,
From those murky depths of old,
Random memories of small,
Un-notable expanses of time,
With bursts of laughter or sorrow,
Fade to unclear motions, easily mistaken for dreams.
Written my eighth grade year as a poetry assignment
“A young man was talking today about the misadventures of a college freshman, being one that he is, and without even beginning the first semester, nothing has gone as planned. His dream college has become something much less desirable. In simpler terms, he was frustrated – upset, aggravated, annoyed, grieved – so many words to describe him in that particular moment. And in that moment, a small mind-wrenching thought hit me, well more like punched me..repeatedly.
I sit here in my bed, still wrestling with these thoughts, with less than a minute left till midnight. And my thoughts go as follows:
If he is not happy doing what he is doing, why is he doing it at all?
Aren’t we supposed to be happy?”
An excerpt from one of my numerous notebooks, written my freshman year of highschool.
Some days I half expected to walk into the living room and find her sitting there like she always did, her blonde hair all messy, paper and pencils everywhere. She used to always forget one in her hair and leave it there all day.
Or I would expect to walk into the kitchen and find her standing in the midst of a mess by the stove cooking goodness knows what. Somehow it always ended up tasting alright.
The afternoon was just beginning to transition to evening, giving the sky a beautiful dusty blue color. People mingled about the plaza next to Le Musée d’Orsay. As I left the museum hall I could hear the faint sound of a piano playing nearby. Sure enough as I reached the end of the plaza as it descended into the street, two small men sat on a piano bench and were jazzing out some good old ragtime.
I want to go to Paris with only a sketchbook under my arm, some paints and pencils in my pocket, and a camera around my neck. I want to sit in a little cafe and just write, until I have nothing left to say. I want to capture the beauty that I see. I want to show that there is still so much beauty left in this broken world, and that it should be celebrated, not destroyed. Such a noble profession it is to capture what isn’t captured enough. But instead of poverty and destruction, I want to capture the beauty that still needs to be shared.
I want to compose a piece and have it played. I want people to hear it and gasp. I want it to stand out and make them think.
I want to write something worth reading. I want to write something people will talk about, something controversial that will express the questions I have, in hopes other people can help me answer them.
I want to inspire other people.
And once I’m done traveling the world, I want to settle down with a family of my own and teach them all that I’ve learned.
A beautiful thing,
A smile is.
A beautiful thing.
A simple thing.
“Travelling through Paris…the sun shining, not too hot. A pleasant breeze.” She smiled. “Maybe Rome. And then Greece, followed by a deep discussion debating the differences and similarities of their culture and architecture. A backpacking trip throughout Europe, sleeping under the stars, no tent, just us and the world.”
“And Africa. A long trip to Africa, getting a dark tan will working with small villages, like a mission trip. And then, off to Australia, just to see the Kangaroos.”
“And the Koalas.” she laughed.
“And then to India. We can ride elephants and go hiking in the deep jungles. We would marvel at their rich culture, and..” he interrupted her.
“And breathe the clean air as we drink tropical juices.”
“And burn our noses from all that sun exposure.” She said, smiling as she threw her pillow at his face.
“And we’d go to Scotland and dance around in funny skirts and talk like this!” he said in a dorky, horrible Scottish accent. He tossed the pillow back and she caught it.
“And Ireland. We’d picnic on their rolling green hills, and drink fresh got’s milk, and sleep to the sound of them groaning nearby.”
He raised his eyebrow at her. “Sure.” he said. “And don’t forget about Finland.”
“And Iceland, which is really green, and Greenland, which is really icy.”
She sat up, placing the pillow on her crisscrossed legs. “We could go anywhere.”
“Anywhere.” Her dad smiled.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Places.”
It was pitch black outside. From my campsite, trees that loomed high above me covered whatever light the stars and the moon would offer. I grabbed my flashlight and my sleeping bag from my tent and walked out of my campsite.
Standing in the middle of the loop, I waited in the cold. The sound of blankets dragging against the tarmac and faint giggling warned me of my friends’ approach. As we had all agreed before falling asleep, we met, blankets and sleeping bags under our arms, all of us still clad in our pajamas. Without talking, we walked. As we reached the dock, the trees parted, giving way to the stars and the full moon that almost shone blue. It was three a.m.
We climbed onto the dock, it’s old, creaky boards moaning under all of our weight. We rolled our sleeping bags out. Ana broke the silence.
“There is probably spiders crawling everywhere on this dock.” We all stopped and stared at her.
“Really, Ana?” I said. We all laughed. “Spiders or no spiders, we’re not going back now”.
We all climbed into our sleeping bags and huddled together.
“I don’t see any shooting stars. And the boards are hurting my back. And it’s cold.” Ana said.
“You have to be patient, Ana.” Bailey laughed.
We talked and laughed for hours into the morning while stars shot across the sky, so many it looked like it was raining light.