everywhere & nowhere

25/01/2011 § Leave a comment

I see him everywhere but I can’t find him.

He steps outside of old-leather shoe stores for a cigarette, slumps on stools behind the counter at countless bakeries, props his selves against cement walls with his legs outstretched in parks. Everywhere.

Walking into the conditioned air of The Grand Splendid, I looked, yet couldn’t find him.

There were tourists happily snapping the grandiose decor, rows of Allende and Argentine architecture, people plouching onto puffed leather couches. Nowhere.

I decided to revel in the environment of quips&phrases, peeling a fresh copy of Coetzee (“Diary of a Bad Year”) from the stuffed shelf and finding my own arm to hang my legs over. I could re-imagine moments passing through bookstores and paper shops and how I used to love finding a stool or window sill to piratize unpurchased words from the page. I then wondered if it would be rude to get out my own book, “In America” by Susan Sontag, breaking back the cover against itself so no one could read the title in English, or read the title with the word America. They might think I’m American, I thought. Then, I realized I wouldn’t really care.

Still, I sat with toes twiddling the air reading a South African born, Australian citizen author (Coetzee). A young man came to clear of the coffee table of books left behind by other pirateers.

“Excuse me, are these yours?”

“No, just looking through this one (please don’t take it away…),” I replied.

“When you are done, do you think you could put it back in its proper place?”

“Of course. Why wouldn’t I?”

“Thank you so much, sister, sister.”

It made me think why we take things without putting them back. When I was a kid, I remember seeing a pretty, little, woven basket and lifting it from its prettly, little wire basket from White Rose. It wasn’t until we got to the little white Honda that I said, “Mommy, look! It’s so cute!” Within moments I was face-to-face apologizing with a lady working the register. She thought the sentiment was so cute she said I could keep the pretty, little, woven thing. But, that would teach me nothing.

I started thinking a lot in that bookstore-cooler, especially about him and what he would think, especially because I was able to think as my brain didn’t feel like it was a hard-boiled egg. He loved humanity so much and believed in people so much. And still, there were books left behind on the coffee table. There will always be books left on the coffee table. It used to bother me, but I know it’s just because they may have other things on their mind. Maybe the past or future or somewhere else.

I was sufficiently cooled and returned my Coetzee to his place. One less book for the coffee table, not only as a lesson learned, but a message I leave behind. Every action we do, leaves behind an imprint.

So I began to imagine how the day will unfold for that young man in the bookstore. Perhaps he would let it roll off his back. Perhaps he is holding a piece of paper scrunched between squeezes from the frustration and mindless-ness of some. Perhaps he will get on the bus and bump somebody, not caring because he just got crapped all over all day. Perhaps he will bring it home and unload. But probably not. People love people. For the most part. In most places. Sometimes, we think we don’t but it’s only because we really, really, really do.

Stepping outside, I saw him everywhere again. Sitting with his mirror-image at a coffee-shop, sipping soda in the shade, working security at a hotel desk.

Here and There. Everywhere and Nowhere. Without ever knowing he left an imprint on me.

Hi ho.


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