Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bloor Line, home from the holidays

Caucasian man, early 40s, with short blonde hair and a deep receding hairline, sleepy oval blue eyes, wearing a beige turtleneck under a black Polo jacket. Propped between his legs is a large shopping bag, stuffed with unwrapped presents, and a bright pink rolling suitcase. A young girl, blonde, with sleepy oval blue eyes rests her head on his shoulder, picking at her festively painted fingernails. He adjusts his arm so she can snuggle in closer. He kisses her forehead and continues to read over the top of her head.

The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown)

Page 46:

Connectors are important for more than simply the number of people they know. Their importance is also a function of the kinds of people they know. Perhaps the best way to understand this point is through the popular parlor game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon."

His mind races. He knows he's just tired, but he can't stop thinking. Phrases are playing over in his head. Gestures. That time in the kitchen when she just stood there, just standing, her head lowered, her arm outstretched, her palm held up in a weak stop sign. Was it then? The moment she wanted to say that something had happened, maybe something hadn't happened, that something could happen, would happen, if he didn't...what? If he didn't what? There was an Enough moment. He saw it. Her arm had fallen limp, hitting the kitchen counter before falling against her thigh in a dull thud. She rubbed her wrist, finally looking at him, and it was enough. And he did nothing. He wonders, riding home to their new apartment, his daughter's head slipping down the front of his chest in exhaustion, how many degrees it took for his wife to end up on a beach with her new lover watching Santa arrive on a jet ski.


shannon said...

Your description of the father and his daughter on the Bloor line is so beautiful, and empathetic and just that little bit sad in its familiarity.

I love your observations, it makes me slip into memories of my own, as well as make me appreciate the people around me on the TTC for being just that, people.

Happy New Year Julie!

shannon said...

ooh, I just want to add, I've figured it out (for myself, I'm sure this is obvious to everyone else). It's a little bit like the "15 minutes of fame" thing, except we're being noticed and recorded doing something so ordinary and habitual and run-of-the-mill to us, it gives me an almost giddy high just thinking about it.

Do you know what I mean? We're so many nameless faces on the street, in the tram or train or bus or wherever. Our government ignores us, we strive to live full, happy lives, yet many of us have a secret fantasy to be Peter Parker or some-such, to be special for ourselves, to be noticed by a complete stranger. It's wish-fulfillment. It's fantasy. It's reall and it's happening and Julia Roberts is nowhere to be seen Amen!

You are my new hero!

Julie Wilson said...

Well thank ya! The days that I try to just fire off any old bit of writing I find I can't do it. This entry in particular, I went back and rewrote the draft. I decided that this was quite extraordinary, a father and daughter loaded down with luggage and presents, clearly exhausted, rumbling along past her bedtime, this the first chance he'd had who however many days to just sit quietly and read. Who knows what their lives are really like, but if I'm going to be either inspired by people to write about events that are familiar to me, or to write to them, about who they could be, they should be treated as if the very act of reading is, in itself, a superpower.

Have a great new year!