Sunday, July 19, 2015

I Wanted To Write About...

Here’s what I wanted to write about today: Friends.  Real ones, assumed ones, false ones, friends of convenience and inconvenience. How sometimes it’s difficult to tell them apart, and how friendships, new and old and developing, are heartbreaking, tenuous and glass-fragile. Friends come and go, they vanish and reappear. Often, they simply vanish, or their behaviors become mysterious, an unshared and destructive secret. I spent some time thinking about two very good friends, both passed away, and how even after many, many years, I still miss them.  And the difference between friends and Facebook friends, some of whom I’ve never met.  

Also, I wanted to comment on the weather, which in my part of the country has been unseasonably wet. My yard greener than it’s ever been, with jungle-like growths of vines and creepers and odd, wild green things I’ve never seen before.

I wanted to write about the flock of turtles that resides a few minutes from my house. I’ve befriended them with kernels of corn shaved from a fresh ear. There are painted turtles, box turtles, and two snappers. One is huge, at least twenty inches across, and the people who live near the pond say he/she’s been there as long as they can remember. Snapping turtles in the wild can live up to 70 years; they have no predators and lead indolent lives. Goliath, as the neighbors call him, has recently been joined by a mate and/or buddy. The two are prehistoric and dinosaur-like. They rule the pond, which they share with a dozen-or-so goldfish. Someone got tired of cleaning the aquarium and dumped the ornamental fish there, and they’ve flourished.

I wanted to write about how my small Northern Virginia town is being eaten up by developers who erect monstrous buildings that in one sweep destroy the personality of the place. One development, half-a-mile from me, will be erected on land that recently was a nursery surrounded by small houses like mine, built in the early 1960s and designed for middle-income families. Now that land is eight acres of red dirt without a single blade of grass. Farther down my town’s main street, a family restaurant that had been there fifty years was torn down, as were a few tiny row houses where elderly couples lived. About a year ago, Hilton bought land abutting the main street, tore down old shops, and put up a cheap businessmen’s hotel with a happy hour bar and parking abutting two single-family homes.  Now, a ten-floor apartment building is going up a few hundred yards away.  There will be a Harris Teeter on the ground floor, and a variety of chi chi shops—Lululemon, an expensive florist, a place specializing in classy candies and coffees.

I wanted to write about my backyard pond which, thanks to the weather, is gloriously floral. At night, a large stag comes and drinks from it. He’s clumsy; he knocks over the lotus and water hyacinths pots. His hooves leave two-inch-deep indentation in my lawn and he deposited a mound of deer shit in my driveway.

I wanted to write about how my indoor/outdoor cat and a largish fox have reached an entente cordial of sorts. The fox makes strange noises, like an old man coughing in the night. They stare at each other and neither gives way until I or my neighbor comes out. Then the fox runs barking skittering sounds. My cat is unflustered and displays splendid feline indifference.

And then I wanted to write about writing, and I how recently found myself in the company of a young man who had done everything to make his first book successful, except write it. He had a plot, and knew how the characters would interact. He had already established their personalities, their traits, their assets and their shortcomings. They would be handsome, and engaging, and smart, and witty, and full of winning dialogues. “My book,” the young man said, “is going to be great!”

I was proud of myself for keeping mostly silent. I said I’d be interested in seeing the book when it was finished. The young man seemed surprised at first, and then alarmed.

I wanted to write about the Tour de France which, this year, failed to interest me.

I wanted to write about the month of July, which is always lonely.

And lastly, I wanted to write about life and keeping cancer at bay for almost six months now, and how some have been less fortunate and lost that cruel battle.

That’s the good thing about writing: There’s always a wealth of stuff to write about, great and meaningless, lasting and temporary.

Thank heavens for words.    

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