Life is an adventure, or more accurately, a series of them, strung together with moments that aren’t nearly as memorable. During this quieter times, we contemplate and remember the ones that came before, going over them in our minds.
As authors, we store up these moments and save them for a story. I have a vast catalog of these memories that I have stored in my mind, some I’ve written down. Most are merely there to be plucked when needed.
For example, the old lady who deliberately ran into me with a shopping cart in K-Mart. I stood in the vasty nothingness surrounded by wide open space, but she went out of her way to hit me. I shall not forget her diatribe about how “You people down here just get in the way.” Nor shall I forget the other woman who took up for me, telling her just as loudly, “If you hate it here so much, why don’t you go the hell back home!”
I also remember quite fondly the young men I encountered in the grocery store one day. They were discussing the attributes, or lack thereof, of a variety of beers. One member of the group was constantly shot down, his choices nixed at every turn. Finally, he grabbed a case of beer and held it close to his body so they couldn’t take it away. “I didn’t spend $900 on a ticket and fly all this way to drink beer I don’t like!”
Another incident, this time with my GPS, stands out in my mind. My GPS kept arguing with me and got me quite misplaced on my way home from Tampa. I was going through Orlando (which I shall always equate with a black hole – because it always sucks me in and gets me lost). It told me to make a left when I really needed to go straight across. I should have known what I was in for when the drunk lady wobbled across the intersection in front of me and stopped by the car to stare at us while I waited for the light to change. I ended up in a part of town that no woman with two boys in the car should ever be in alone.
I realized my error and tried to find a way to turn around, but there was construction going on. There were also a series of one way streets headed the wrong way for where I needed to go. When I stopped at an intersection and saw six cop cars with lights flashing, surrounding a house a block away, I didn’t care if I went the wrong way or not. I sped away from there as quickly as possible, got myself to I-4 and headed east. When my boys asked me why I was on the interstate (they know I hate it) I replied, “I may not like I-4, but at least when I’m on it, I know where the hell I am!”
Not all incidents have been negative. The game I played with one of the special ed students a week ago, is a happy memory that will one day be commemorated. I don’t know what the child’s condition is, but he’s in a wheelchair and has impaired motor skills. His language skills are also limited, but he’s a bright, cheerful child with a fun sense of humor. He was playing with a box of markers and he handed it to me. I handed it back. We passed it back and forth a few more times, then he handed it to me as if it were incredibly heavy. I took it and collapsed, as if a great weight tugged at me. Then I made believe it could fly, lifting it high above our heads. He laughed and smiled.
The next time I passed it back to him, I snatched it away just as he grabbed it. He was surprised, but saw the humor in it and laughed loudly, throwing his whole body into it. We carried on like that for at least 10 minutes, having the best time teasing one another with the simple game. I’ll carry that memory fondly with me until the day I use it in a story.
Save up these moments that make up your day. Treasure them, hold them gently and use them to pepper your writing with verisimilitude. Life’s an adventure – Bring It On!
© Dellani Oakes