I've only been back in school for a week but I've already noticed a huge change in both my voice and my will to write in general. It's amazing how subjecting yourself to adverse styles can, in turn, change the way that you look at words and force your voice to take a new direction.
For one of my writing classes, we had to read an excerpt from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, analyze it, and as a finish to the assignment write our own versions of it. The excerpt we read was called "Seeing" and it more or less challenges the reader to look closer, to see things for more than just face value.
Here is what I came up with.
Its four legs perched on our ragged carpet, I stare. I look into the grains, the damaged second-hand woodwork and I see a hardened piece of the center of several homes. Supports, damaged undoubtedly from many years of relocating and movement, waver in their instability. Seeing through the cracks has just become part of my day.
Legs, a caress that no fool would attempt exhibit signs of buckling, one wrong move made and it’s all over. One touch and years of use become evident. Before the surface is even scratched, viewing this centerpiece from the ground up is almost a disaster, only to the scathing sort of eye. To its founders, its partners—remarkable beauty and comfort are garnered by its presence.
After crawling out of bed, stumbling my way to the coffee pot in hopes of gaining that one burst of energy needed to satisfy my day and making my way over to the couch to light up that first cigarette, the table is there. It welcomes me with open opportunity. Rings dot the surface from many clumsy mornings of exhaustion. Cigarette ashes gather like dust on cobwebs, the abandoned reading materials left opened as surgical wounds in progress. This landmark caters to every aspect of my existence.
The sort of self-poisoning needed to get me through my days is enabled only by this edifice. Meaningless before, mandatory later; the table intervenes when life gets too healthy. Five hours spent in slumber mark only the necessity to inhale, to litter that table once more with the remnants of my behavior. The coffee, spilled in an effort to drug myself into wakefulness. But still, I see nothing more than a constant companion.
I flip open my computer in wait, careful not to disturb the scattered adjustment of objects splayed before me. A bill, a notebook, a few scribbles of ideas litter my calm. When will I get to these things? I miss the ashtray and leave yet another burn mark, another ash, another hieroglyph on this bold artifact.
A permanent marker lies on its side, a pile of blank compact discs towered adjacent. A cigarette lighter, a phone, speakers to enable our music being heard at a respectable volume—all remnants of our days spent betwixt the walls of this third-story cell. An old, barely listened to vinyl record melted into the shape of an ashtray lies near a bottle of crimson nail polish and Shea butter rest in peace, all adhering to some notion of beauty in their own way.
Beneath the table in some interpretation of a shallow grave lie to rest some notebooks, a magazine, DVDs, a nearly empty carton of cigarettes; all resembling failures that we don’t always care to notice. It’s not that we’ve failed, it’s that they have. They are not worth the poise and status that the other objects resting on the table are endowed.
I look past the glow of an opened laptop, into my black television screen casting shadows created by the left-hand window seeping light pollution into our dwelling. I catch a glimpse of my reflection, aptly focused and thwarted into thought. I examine the contrast in what could only be defined as searching. Searching for a further meaning, a clarity, any kind of notion that something I’m thinking about makes sense—but nothing. This could be said about the television itself, even in its powered-off state.
Adjacent we find a collection, leaves of plastic outline vinyl records holding keys to our misanthropy. A white cabinet wrought from a thrift store encases them allowing for easy access when our need for those songs presents itself. Atop the cabinet, a turntable from the early nineties rests, giving us the means by which to listen to our gospel. On either side of the cabinet, speakers from my youth gifted to us by my father lie. Rectangular in shape, encased in dark hard wood and lined in black felt—remnants of my past.
The left speaker has a dent in it from when my sister and I were rough housing around as kids. When even more closely examined, scratches run down the sides where evidence of pulled thread remains from years of feline torture. Between the right-hand speaker and the cabinet, propped up are albums we couldn’t quite pack into the cabinet; excess to our necessities and problematic in arrangement.
My eyes gather my surroundings, my life, my dwelling and everything rushes toward some other state of calm. It’s not the calm I feel when I open a book, it’s not the calm I feel when abandoning myself in nature. It’s an otherworldly sense of chaos that I am consistently imbued in. Though tangible articles are scattered, misplaced or maybe just don’t belong altogether, I find comfort in knowing that this is my home. This is what I have to wake up to every single day. This is what it means to find comfort in just simply seeing.
I challenge you all today to look at something with a fresh set of eyes. It's not really about being overly descriptive or turning something else into more than what it really is. Just look. See. Take it all in.