It’s not often that I get requests for specific kinds of content. To be sure, I try to be as keenly aware as possible which types of posts attract the most readers and which segments of my core readership gravitate to which categories of content. Even so, I am always looking for ways to freshen things up. To move in novel directions. To challenge myself in new ways. So, when a loyal reader suggested to me last night that I publish a post of a very unique and particular kind, I was receptive to the idea. Though, I sensed immediately that writing the post as proposed to me might create a bit of challenge. I was intrigued. I thought, why not?
For this post, I was asked to describe my sensations, not in a structured, or linear, fashion, but in the form of a montage and as I experience them in two separate scenarios: a moment in my personal life and a moment in an urban, or public, setting. I was correct when I sensed this exercise would pose a challenge for me. Not interpreting or otherwise ascribing meaning to the sensations involved as I articulated them was tricky (and I know I didn’t always succeed at it. It seemed a natural part of the process.). Equally (if not more) difficult was the issue of discussing concurrently the fluctuations of my inner states. That is, my own experience of my thoughts and emotions. What they feel like. I found it nearly impossible to increase my awareness of the world around me without also becoming more keenly aware of what was going on inside of me. It was a great all-at-onceness. I also discovered that I conceptualize my sensory interactions with the world in terms of simile and metaphor far more often than even I realized. In fact, the creation of these short sensory montages was not unlike writing poetry. The process was uncannily similar. As I was asked not to overthink this exercise, I allowed that kind of metaphorical thinking in the descriptions that follow. They come to me naturally, without effort, as I attempt to articulate my experiences. And, it would have required a far greater degree of intentional manipulation and overthinking to leave all of them out.
So, below, you will find three short sensory montages. One of my personal experience while cooking dinner this evening. One of an outdoor setting in the city in which I live. One of my experience while sitting inside a coffee shop this afternoon. I added the third to give a little more substance to the post.
While Making Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (Spaghetti with Garlic and Oil)
Parsley in my hands. Herbaceous. Perfume. Like paper tearing from the stems. The scent of sautéing garlic. The knife rolls across the cutting board. Firm in my hands. Light over stove from the right. Garlic and oil glistening gold. Rumble of the kitchen fan. Parsley turns from light green to dark. Sticks to my fingers. Moist. Sliding cool down the blade.
On a City Street
Moe’s Original Bar B Que. Street sign. Green awnings and purple neon lights, sign too small to read. Everything is doused in sun. Trees a vibrant green. Air rising with the voices of children. All corners full of people walking slowly. Families. Old woman in a purple shirt. Girl with shiny dark hair shields her eyes from the sun. Heat reflecting off a car. Black car glistening in the sun. Large man in a blue shirt. Handicapped tag on a white car. Traffic quiet like a stream. Young boy with hand raised lounging on a bench. Spiky bracelets and stand-up hair. Airplane. Contrails in the blue sky to the right. Crystal clear.
Afternoon in a Coffee Shop
Pro-Action on the back of a t-shirt. Sitting adjacent to a girl in high boots and a homely plaid dress. The taste of espresso fresh on my tongue. The grind of the coffee machine. Conversation about a spreadsheet. Everywhere is warm. Sun through the windows. Sun, everywhere sun. Sun molding my jeans to my thighs. Whirl of the fan. Brick on brick. Four corners and chic urban lighting. The dim beat of the voices. Drum of the audio. Sinking as if in a dream. Tiled fireplace and moving hands. A man shakes his head. A hijab, sunglasses, and an ugly mug. Not all belonging to the same person. People spread like flies. My palms cool on the leather chair. Soft and sinking. A blue painting with a white palm tree and a white moon. Cooling. A family with gray hair and a woman in a dress that looks like a quilt. “A small percentage of Latin Americans…” Breeze of the steel gray fan. My bottle of Perrier is sparkling under the green sun and dancing to all the footsteps. The vibrations of the old wood rising up through my feet. Light breeze whispers like wind on the backs of the ears. A single flower in a vase. Quivers in the hum.