I’ve been living in a smoke of words since arriving on Monday.
A good smoke. Not a bad smoke. Not wild fires licking your home smoke, but the other kind. Sweet. Maybe a bit spicy. Edible, floral, make it what you will.
Cities are made of words. Or, no, not just cities, such a claim applies to everything. Cities just seem to have more words than most. You blink, you see, you digest. Red taxi. Pavement stained black by rain. Green eyes. A scowl. Fallen hawthorn leaves smashed by the endless feet. The sign for the toilet in the café, for the Underground lift, for Trafalgar Square. Umbrellas, a sea of them—some black like mine, others plastic and clear, some hot pink, blue, three as muddy looking as the Thames, too many an orbit of red, blue, white—the England flag floating above foreign heads.
In a city, in London, the brain clicks clicks clicks, twitching like a manic to get every new sight in the head. Imprinted. You don’t want to lose it. Those sights, those words—the gaze is as precious as a mother’s hand. You long to stick every face onto the walls of your head so that you never forget. This is not Colorado Springs. That is not Pikes Peak. This is London and the Eye and Big Ben and a fresh new corner to take in with every bend.
But I’m only human. Yesterday is hours away and I’ve let too many images and words slip from my brain. Those words. I need my words. If I could find the words to create the scene I’d be able to recreate the memory—this is true, right?
Like a book, like a play, like Richard III and Henry V. Shakespeare wasn’t even there to observe those histories but through words he constructed images, intricate scenes, full characters so human it hurts to read, so tormented and real you kind of just want to go in and slap them, hug them—tell ten-year-old Richard that he’s beautiful, hold him back when he throws those verbal knifes, tell Henry to shake off the weight, congratulation for achieving the day—and I’m not quite sure why, but reading these plays makes me so much more aware of the power of words and their beauty to give sight.
So I’ll just keep scribbling, keep using my otherwise useless iPhone to capture the exquisite things that I see that I feel are necessary to keep. And, as required, I’ll read and hope to better imprint the foreign sights of Shakespeare’s land and London in my mind.