When we were out yesterday, I noticed her for a few seconds. She was about ten feet away, between probably 25 and 30 years of age, standing by herself, leaning against metal fencing next to a palm tree. Her right hand held a cigarette, the left a phone at which she was intently staring.
She didn’t seem like a tourist or an expat, so I’m guessing she was a Spaniard. She shifted the cigarette to her left hand, and while deftly cradling phone and cigarette in that hand she started tapping the phone screen with her right forefinger. Medium height, thinnish build, her dark brown hair was cut short, her eyes were narrow, and her expression unsmiling and hard. In her short sleeve shirt and trousers, she typed away apparently largely indifferent as to what else was going on around her.
It didn’t look like a very good day. Or at least it may not have been a very good moment. But only she knew for sure. She seemed to look right through me after she eventually finished tapping away and afterwards walked right by me.
Having tapped away myself here in noting my general impression of her, it’s unlikely I’ll forget her anytime soon. Just writing something down plants a flag in our memory. My recollection won’t fade quite as quickly as it probably will for most other people I see routinely hereabouts.
Most of the time, we are all barely paying attention. The daily world is a blur of “indistinct” people going about their business – until we take time actually to look at persons. None of us are truly “faceless.” Indeed, we are all in our ways decidedly unique.
I think here as well of my late uncle, who was always surveying what was going on around him, “pumping” friends and acquaintances, and even near-strangers, for information, insights and noteworthy experiences. Often he seemed to be chatting away. In fact, he was carefully listening and observing.
In a sense, he was always involved in a “casting call.” Fiction may often rely on “ourselves.” However, we also need “pure” fictionalizations at times, and those are naturally best based on reality, too – which is why the idea, again, of the writer as a “recluse” is, to me, ludicrous.
Laugh too yourself if you want, but, uh, be careful out there. Wander across some writer’s path and you never know. You have been warned: one may borrow your persona for use in a novel someday. 🙂