It’s a cool and rainy Saturday afternoon. Despite it being June I discovered I was longing for a cup of hot tea. Preferably Irish Breakfast tea, but there was none to be found. I went with Lady Grey which is nothing like the Irish stuff. Still it’s warm and cozy. Outside the sky is a flat gray and the rain keeps drizzling along. I just started playing a song from Minnesota Public Radio’s song of the day podcast. It’s sort of a mishmash of classical, jazz, klesmer or blue grass thing, and some kind of something else. Seems like it belongs as the underscore to some rambling scene in the middle of a movie, one with no dialogue. Can’t really describe it. (Clearly.) Somehow the music, the weather, the taste of the tea all mixed to give me flashbacks to dusty used book stores.
Back when I was totally poor and broke I would lounge away a number of hours on a Saturday afternoon in some used book store. Whether it was back in college where we might travel 45 minutes to the next university to visit Acres of Books (which I thought was Agnes of Books, because…I’m weird and misread the sign) or some random used bookstore in Dinkytown or over in St. Paul, there’s something about the atmosphere of such a place. A book store is one of the few places in our modern world where perusing is expected and even encouraged. Where a sales person doesn’t spot you from the moment you turn the corner down the block and eyeballs you all the way to the register. Where you can meander and wander and skim through the books, and perhaps even go away empty handed without any kind of wrong doing or guilt. And the used book stores are always the filled with the scent of slowly decaying paper. Thin, yellowing, crumbly pages with flattened out dog-eared edges, and cracked spines. It’s the smell of dust. Of memories. Of moments passed and shared and passed along to the next reader.
One thing I never dreamed of being was a novelist. I don’t think I have that attention span for creation. Short stories, perhaps. Plays, yes – with the right subject and support. But not novels. It takes a different animal to be the artist that tells a long, detailed story like that.
Recently a friend told me she was asked to write and perform a spoken word piece. Nothing too long, certainly nothing beyond her ability. She was a bit nervous about it, but I found it exciting and fun. What a great opportunity to be able to frame a tale—particularly if it’s a real life story. Memoir story telling has seen a huge growth in the past decade. The story teller not giving a linear path to the story, or to their lives. It’s a bit like non-fiction in a short-story fictionalized form. I have a few ideas for those kinds of things that I could write. Experiences in my life, in my family. I question whether I’d really want to share some of them, or whether there are some that anyone might even find interesting.
Perhaps it’s the tea that moved my mind of books and stories to writing. Last year I spent a significant portion of the Spring and Fall writing a play. Two plays actually, but the same play. I often wrote in the late afternoons, as the sun was beginning to drop, and I often had a cup of tea by my side. Music playing in the background. It was the way to find my way in to the heads and hearts of the characters.
I’m not sure those are the same ingredients I’d need for a recollections piece. The music would be different. The drink…probably stronger.
Maybe I’ll give it a shot sometime. Maybe I’ll post it here.