Sunday, January 10, 2016

On the Street Where You May or May Not Live

In the ordinary course of an evening's walk, you might find yourself one block west of the street where you live and two or three blocks northeast of here, to a place where, amidst real places and businesses, there are imaginary ones, populated by imaginary individuals, all of whom have performed imaginary acts.

Don't worry, you tell yourself; it is only fiction of which you speak, not delusion.  You might well have been drawn to walk those blocks on Victoria Street except that there were enough rain showers to make walking without your Barbour rain coat an impractical venture.  Instead, you drove past, looking for a place where you could get a quicker and smaller meal than Trattoria Victoria, on the block where your imagination has made additions, particularly a used bookstore, where a woman who is hiding from an abusive husband works.

In addition to the Trattoria Victoria on that side of the street, there is also Hotel Victoria, where the woman who works in the used bookshop lives, or at least lived, because she is now, as they say in police procedural novels and novels of intrigue, "gone into the wind."  There is every probability that the corpse on the bed of the room in Hotel Victoria where the woman who works in the used bookstore once lived is the abusive husband who has caught up with her.

There is every reason to believe the proprietor of the used bookstore is tangentially implicated in this event because, like your father, who had a number of stores or shops, all of which he could not wait to get out of, he hired the woman to work in the used bookshop in order to give him the opportunity to spend less time in it and yet keep it open, in case someone should enter the used bookstore, wishing to browse or buy a particular used book.

Even though the proprietor of the used bookstore is imaginary, you know him well, have endowed him with recognizable traits and responses from your own storehouse of responses and the wiring of other behavior you've observed,  This is how the process works for you, how imaginary individuals become real,do things they try to control but can't, try to accommodate circumstances that seem overwhelming.

In someways, you remind yourself of the short,graying,elderly woman who pushes a jerry-built cart into the neighborhood on Wednesday afternoons, no doubt to take advantage of the trash being at its fullest before collection.  Attached to her cart are several large plastic bags into which she places bottles and cans with some redemption value.  There are bags for such things as discarded appliances, clothing, and such miscellany as house plants, books, and groceries past their use-by date.  You call her Señora, she calls you Senor Patron.

Your last conversation had to do with you giving her a few items you'd intended for Good Will, and your acknowledging how you were both interested in collecting things for later use.  This has helped you see yet another way in which you are in fact sorting through the dregs of uninteresting parts of your life and the lives of others for the purpose of constructing the same sort of results Dr. Victor Frankenstein was so assiduously pursuing.

Not long ago, there appeared on your patio table, which already has a pot of succulents, a different shard of succulent, which you immediately placed in your pot, knowing it was a gift from Señora.  There are items about your dwelling that you did not chose; they were given to you by others with the thought that you might like them.  Over time, you've come to like these things for other reasons than you like the things reflecting your taste and choices, vivid reminders that you chose not to exercise too much control, lest you find yourself in a more or less comfortable bubble, where there exists a danger that you will become numbed to your surroundings.

This year was the first year in your lifetime when you had, on your kitchen table, the equivalent of a Nativity Scene, no doubt from your maid.  You do not know where it is now, but for the time it was on your table, you noticed it.  In one of your drawers, an acorn from a student.  Each tie you open the drawer, you have an opportunity to think about acorns in ways you had never thought about them before.

In such ways, you live in a tumble of events and individuals, some imagined, some actual, reminding you of the ongoing progression of events and individuals in your imagination, in your memory, and of contemporary presence, crowding, merging, conflating.  There are at least two paintings on your walls that you did not chose; they arrived as though from independent sources to take their place with pictures and art of your choice.  At least two of the rugs are not of your choice, calling your attention to them in ways beyond the ways of the rugs you did chose.

Your world here is that delightful combination of what you make of it and what it makes of you.

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