|image via amazon.com|
I picked up a book at Borders the other day called Don't Quit Your Day Job. Not that I have a day job. I'm technically self-unemployed.
Anyway, the book is a bunch of southern authors explaining how the round about way of becoming a writer is part rite of passage, part pain in the (choose physical location).
My takeaway from Howard Bahr's piece was The Other: That sentient being who seems to observe the situation from afar, who notices little details that, if one were alone, one would miss in the fleeting moment. Apparently, Mr. Bahr has one. Do you have one? I know I have one.
I know The Other is always with me, because I notice ridiculous things all the time, but I can count on one hand the amount of times The Other has made a strong presence known. The sun slants a certain way. The geese flying overhead sing a special song. The scent of earth, or sea, or perhaps chrysanthemums pervades the air. And laughter. There is always laughter, but to The Other, it seems far away. Only the details of place snap into focus.
Last time I was in an emergency room, The Other took notes on the color of the cords.
How the indistinguishable, putty tangle plugged into seemingly random receptacles.
How the floor tiles cracked where there was a surely buckle in the concrete beneath.
How someone really needed to clean the baseboards with good, strong bleach.
How bleach would have been a preferable scent to the plastic and antiseptic floating around.
There were pages of notes. They were the observations of The Other, because I was worrying about the sleeping boy on the bed.
When we were discharged, The Other watched some EMTs wheel a grey-faced man into an ambulance. Watched the doors close. Felt the whole room breathe again.Watched the wife crumble as reality crashed down.
The Other is there when I just can't be. And I'm glad for it. Who can bear such joy and such pain?