I was looking at Facebook, the water-cooler for the solitarily self-employed. Under a friend’s post a thread was forming. The conversation was about people my friend and his friends had known when they were in art school a long, long time ago.
“Do you remember N______?” asked my friend. “He spray-painted his shoes silver and lived in the broom closet for a year and no one knew.”
One of my favorite parts of conversations is when people sum up someone’s whole life in one sentence, and then move on to the next topic. It leaves so much room for imagining. Right away, I wanted to make a drawing of my idea of N_____. I spray-painted an old pair of Converse All-Stars so I could see what they looked like. I think they will be very good for parties.
While I was painting the picture, a line from the Simon and Garfunkel song, Save the Life of My Child, popped into my head. The line, from the end of the song, is “Oh my grace, I got no hiding place . . . ” This guy, I thought, does have a hiding place. Was he hiding, though? If so, what from?
Maybe you are looking at my picture and thinking thoughts like, Wouldn’t he have more stuff in there? Or, I wonder how he wakes himself up early enough so that nobody finds him sleeping. Or, At least there’s a sink.
Hey, look — you’ve started making up a story. What’s the second sentence?
I love the way your imagination makes pictures, Lynne. Mine just cranks out words.
this one could use a few more words!
I’m struck by the thought that so few people would go beyond the one sentence description about a person, that many people want an easy explanation and will take the sentence as the full story. Curiosity is sometimes hard work.
In this particular conversation, I was probably the only one who was working with only the one sentence. (being the eavesdropper.) And sometimes, logistically conversation-wise, you can’t go into every backstory. But I think you’re right that not often do we take that one sentence and wonder, what else? What does that sentence include?
I just love your work, Lynn. I love watching your mind meander in its imaginings, love seeing the details you grab on to, love your eye and your voice. Both seem both whimsical and real. Thanks for all of it. The next sentence that occurred to me was, “The best thing about it was the quiet, so different from his room at home. The worst thing about it — that was the quiet, too.”
I love this second sentence. I’m going to think of a third. (Nice to hear from you!)