We’re in a cafe with red vinyl 1950’s style booths. There are tiny little jukeboxes on the ends of every table, and Sheryl Crow is wondering if it makes you happy over the speakers. X is sitting across from me, playing air guitar to the chorus of the song, and rocking her head gently back and forth to the rhythm. Her bangs move in front of her face, but she looks back at me, never losing eye contact. I half expect her to get up from her seat and stand on the table to drive the point home. She gradually stops and looks away, never quite losing the tempo, and runs her hands through her hair, fixing the strands that have fallen out of place. She turns to me, puts her elbows on the table with her fingers interlocked, and smiles.
“You know what the sad thing about people is?” she says.
“What?” I reply, after a beat.
“That they want to look into your world. They want to look because they can’t deal with the ugliness of their own, so they turn away from their own, never really facing what makes them look. Its as if they can’t stand to be bothered by their own insecurities.”
I let this thought enter and find a place in my mind where it can settle carefully, diffusing over ideas, or strands of thought, never fully articulated. I bite my lip, and mull over what she said, looking for a concrete example of what she means. The song changes, and Blink 182’s Dammit comes on, and I wonder who picked this playlist. I look at her, across from me.
“You know what the funny thing about some people is?” I ask.
“What’s that?” she says.
“That they have an appetite for things that they can’t have. Whether it’s objects or other people. Somehow they, we, always seem to desire that which is the other. Other than me, other than you, other than this.”
“You want to know what’s really funny?” she says, with almost no break between the previous thought.
“Why is it that Spandau Ballet always plays in the prom scene of every cheese-ball movie that you can remember? That’s the real concern here, ” she says deliberately tapping her right index finger on the table to the pace of the last three words. Real. Concern. Here.
I smirk, and then look away, crossing my arms, and leaning back into my seat.
“You’re not going to make me laugh,” I say, looking back in her direction.
She takes her elbows off the table, and gives me a deadpan look. I uncross my arms and look out the cafe window. After a small quiet moment, she picks up her glass of water from the table.
“This much is true. This much is true,” I fake croon in her direction.
We both laugh, and she snorts as she’s sipping from her cup, spraying the space on the table between us.
“Ew. Thanks,” I say, holding back a laugh.
“You’re an asshole,” she says with smile drawn across her face.
“I knew you were waiting for me to take a drink, and I still gave in. I saw it coming, and I still went against my instincts,” she says.
“Isn’t that the truth,” I say.
I help her wipe down the table, and then we place the used napkins on an empty plate next to the jukebox.
“Do you have any quarters?” I ask her.
“Let me check,” she says, and then starts digging through her purse.
I’m looking for Fleetwood Mac on the jukebox.
“Play ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’,” she tells me, still looking for a quarter.
“No,” I reply. “We always listen to that song.”
“Yeah,” she says, ” because it’s really pretty. Do you just hear it, or do actually listen to the words? Don’t you want to lay with me in the desert at night?” she says.
I turn away from the jukebox, and look at her with a crooked smile.
“Found some!” she says, after rummaging through the small coin pocket in her wallet.
“Yeah, but Rumours is such a good album. It’s been on my mind for the past week, and I haven’t heard anything off of it in I don’t know how long,” I say.
She sets the quarters down on the table, closes her wallet, and then tosses it in one swift motion back into her purse, which she places on the seat next to her. She gives me a serious look, and I continue to search through the list on the other side of the glass for something to play. When I look up, and meet her gaze, she stares right back at me and starts rocking her shoulders smoothly back and forth.
“Listen to the wind blow, watch the sun rise,” she melodramatically croons at me.
She then lifts her arm up, with an open hand, and brings it down slowly like Freddy Mercury bringing a microphone back into his orbit.
“Run in the shadows, damn your love, damn your lies.” She emphasizes the last two verses with a closed fist pump in front of her.
We both burst out in laughter, and a man on his phone in the booth next to us looks over in our direction.
As I grow older, I see nature as the most obvious source of infinite wisdom, but you, we, have to be equipped to deal with it. Mentally, physically, a mix of both. A mental strength and a physical agility has to be developed, or a mental agility and a physical strength. Nature reflects back to us an assured version of itself, and we reflect back to it a more perfect version of ourselves. These are long discussions though, and they don’t just happen in one day. It’s a process that takes the most crucial resource of all for the human condition: time.
Why do we think that being creative is easy, and why do I think that creating will always be a simple task?
My guess, my feeling, knowing the idiosyncrasies of the way that I am, is that at some point in the past, I was just absolutely full of myself, and couldn’t see any of my faults as faults, so I ran with them and championed them as key parts of my individual persona. Now, in the present, the residue of that character still has an influence over my thoughts and actions, albeit a diminishing one.
I think in my attempt to find discipline within myself in order to reach the creative goals that I have in mind, I have to take an honest look at where I have not been responsible for myself, my actions, my time, and actively seek to do better.