10 August 2007

Before I get into banjos

Since I have fewer than 5% of my readership reading, I think I’ll halve my efforts here and post twice as frequently. That should more than make up for…something or other.

The sales guy was becoming increasingly desperate about being invited out for a drink after work (he’s been asking the team about it since 10 this morning, and they’ve been consistently evasive) so I went downstairs for a snack. I ate my lunch at 11:30 so a 13:45 snack isn’t inconceivable. I got flustered when I realised it was down to a different opus of overpriced fresh fruit and so quickly grabbed a bag of organic, salted popcorn. In retrospect, a salad would have been better, but popcorn elicits nostalgia for me, which contains just as many nutrients.

One of my favourite memories is of a moment during a trip I took to Minneapolis with my parents and Bil, when we were fifteen years old. What the moment lacks in actual activity is more than made up for by atmosphere, though it would be difficult for me to recreate this. But let me try anyway.

The thing I liked best about travelling was the feeling of invisibility that complete anonymity engendered (which contrasted the equally irrational and oppressive sense that everyone was watching me back home) - as though I was a friendly energy passing through shops and restaurants and hotel lounges and dizzying blocks of nothing familiar.

There was no hook upon which to hang judgement and so I accomplished these things easily and without fear of failure. My role was only to filter information, benignly and without purpose, which is something you can do when you’re travelling with people who take care of the details.

Our hotel was both private and ethereal, as once the opaque doors closed, an atrium of clouded glass filtered the dusty afternoon light bluely into the lounge, which was really more of a coliseum of internally balconied second-, third- and fourth-floor rooms with a single glass elevator connecting each.

My memory is of two o’clock, the hour in which a traveller is most comfortably embedded in the day’s intrigue, when it seems as though both time and possibility are at once established and endless. In the delicate lobby near the elevator, situated directly beneath the second floor, were a commercial popcorn maker and hazy sitting area where moored children or friends of sleeping vacationers could convene and rest.

The popcorn was free and the sitting area (chairs pulled to small, round tables) seemed infused by those particular attributes of the city itself, so that spending a few hours there did not seem like a waste of time better spent on the town.

All I can really recall of that moment now (its glittering tail ever decreasing in stardust the further it travels) is the popcorn in its shallow, paper bowl, the diffuse late-afternoon light and a fragment of some song that was either playing at the time or had been a part of my soundtrack that year.

I think about that sometimes, when I’m alone and eating popcorn.

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