Sunday, December 28, 2008

Loose Ends, Paper, Guys

Whenever I leave town I have to clean beforehand. Office, house, computer inbox. I delete old piled-up stuff and swoosh things out of sight. My house is cleared out and ready for showing. Someone could come in and just start living there. You could eat off the floor. All my clothes are washed, dishes put away, trash emptied.

Because I take trains, I have to schlep all my stuff. So only the bare essentials go into the bag. No extra shoes, no "dress clothes" no doubles of anything, no books. NO BOOKS?! You're a writer!! How can you go anywhere without books????? a friend asked recently. Well, I find I end up not reading on trains. Looking out the window is too interesting. Or talking with another passenger for a while. Walking up and down the aisle, through the other cars, standing between cars to get fresh air. I sometimes write things on a train, but reading is hard. So I don't bring books.

It's not like they don't have stores where I'm going. And libraries. And anyway, I already have too many books. Not enough time. On the other hand, I can't imagine going ANYwhere without paper. Not even to the store. Since much of my writing is done while walking I always have paper with me. Ever since the time 10 years ago when I was stranded in a Wal-Mart parking lot without any.

The guy I was with needed something in the store, so I waited in the car. He took longer than I thought, so I reached in my bag for a notebook. There was none in there. I looked in the glove box. Nothing. The back seat had greasy food wrappers and empty cans but no paper. None! Not a napkin. No credit card receipts, not even a matchbook. What kind of guy IS he anyway, I muttered as I ransacked the sun visors, side pockets, under the seats. There was no effin' paper anywhere in that car!

I thought of going into the store and buying a tablet, but then what if he came out and saw I was gone, thought I'd gone in the store, and went back in to find me. What if I came out while he was back inside, and we missed each other. What if I then went back in to see if he was looking for me and meanwhile he came back out and saw...... Well, you get the idea.

So I sat there waiting. And fidgeting. I stared out the window. Out in the parking lot across several rows was a garbage can. I went over and dug down into the snarl of food containers, cans, wax paper, and stuff I didn't want to know about. Finally, there was a brown paper bag from somebody's lunch. I pulled it out, dumped the half-eaten tuna sandwich and drinking straws into the can, and went back to the car.

I left my friend a note on a piece of bag: See ya later, guy! There's not a scrap of clean paper in your car. Then I hitched a ride on out of there as fast as I could go.

No comments: