I walked downtown in the evening as the city cooled. I found a spot to sit in the cement blossoming park by the Grove and finished Nick Jaina's book, crying the last few pages. After I stored Get it While You Can in my bag, I took out my phone to let him know how much I loved it.
A woman with a bald spot and long black hair sat to interrupt.
"Do you guys just sit anywhere?"
"What?" I didn't quite hear what she said or understand her familiar tone.
"I see people sitting all over in this city. College town. You just hang out wherever you want?"
This was a park or if not a technical park a public square, a place for hanging out, but I didn't mention that. "I was just reading."
She was dressed to go out, pale skin plumped over floral shirt and skirt. She looked out of another era of fancy, 80s or 90s. She asked what I was reading.
"My friend's book." I handed her the paperback. She thumbed through pages.
"Would you pass it on?" Like it'd be a good deed to share, a moral obligation.
I shook my head. "I can't. It's not mine."
"Oh." She handed it back.
She'd been drinking. She talked about how small the blocks were here. How she needed to get back to 11th Street, to the Safari Inn. How she was here for a funeral from Coeur d'Alene. Or Salt Lake. I got confused. She mentioned both places.
She said she was here until Sunday. Tonight she was getting drunk. Tomorrow she had to be all good and proper. She asked if I knew what that was like.
"Oh, definitely." I'd been nodding and trying to be understanding.
"You think I'm crazy. You're just smiling and nodding, trying to get me to stop talking."
"No," I said, "I understand, I was just--"
"Smiling and nodding."
"No, just going through my own time feeling in a similar way."
She took it to mean, "I was having my own moment when you interrupted me."
"Oh, I'm sorry to bother you."
There was no arguing to be done. I tried to continue the conversation a little, but she was done or embarrassed and I wanted to get my own space back.
As I was leaving she said, "I'm glad you're a reader." And then, "I'm glad you're a tree hugger. I am too."
I don't know what gave her that phrase. My dress maybe. My Keen sandals. No make up. Hair tied back.
It felt like something out of W. Somerset Maugham. I haven't read Maugham since Of Human Bondage when I was 15 or 16, working at the Fayetteville Free Library. I felt like this a lot then. Except there felt less reason for it. This Father's Day Weekend is a difficult holiday indeed, now.
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Process notes on a work in progress (me). This mostly contains raw rough content pulled out of practice notebooks. Occasional posts also invite you into the way I work, with intermittent notes on the hows and whys on the whats I make. Less often you may also find prompts and processes I've brought to workshops, as well as surveys that help me gather material for projects. Similar earlier posts from years ago can be found on: