Monday, June 20, 2011

Strangers on the Bus

I admire people who can chat up strangers; I am not one of them. No, I am abysmally awkward around strangers. I cannot connect on the weather, sports, or hangin out in hot tubs. I suppose, when it comes to social interaction, I want the forest, but can't stand all the damn trees. You, kid, scarcely 20, who tried to chat me up on the bus, have tossed me into a whirlwind of inadequacy. And you just wanted to hang out, you know, just as, like, friends. Dammit.

I'm not sure why I'm saying all this here and now, suffice to say the internet has become a virtual bus, as well (which was not always so.) 

So, hello, stranger. How's the weather where you are? I am here, in Summit County, Colorado, where this morning I woke to snow dusting my deck. Welcome to the high country, they say. Well, you kind of have to be a little high to live here for any extended period of time. It's the thin air, the dry climate, the feeling of being in a massive, alien environment - either funneled into valleys or exposed on mountainsides. I feel isolated, but brave. Illinois is a comparative swamp, humid and teeming with every imaginable creature. Here, life has to be big to subsist. I have tried to find little things of little account, such that I was able to find so easily back in the midwest and have really found only big. Lots of big. Which makes it difficult to write poems. I realize, I need to start small with my literary endeavors and having the small quashed in my environment has stymied my ability to write much of anything. 

I have learned to ski, have hiked 14ers, bike 14 miles to work (on days without snow), play music. But I often fear that I have turned my back on writing and that those friends who write have moved on and forgotten about me, if I was ever really there in the first place (debatable.) Still, changes are afoot. Good ones that will bring me to a different place (down the hill towards Denver come August) and hopefully a different mindset. I cannot wait until I can hold my little chapbook in my hands and have a tangible reminder that, yes, I am poet. I am poet and, yes, socially awkward is its own adjacent milieu.

2 comments:

Brian G. said...

As a stranger who chanced onto your blog, I say hello. If I was on a bus sitting next to you, I hope we would have a conversation. It helps pass the time.

I find the opposite to be true. I live in the midwest now, Iowa, but I grew up in the mountains of Idaho near Yellowstone. I found that the dry, thin air made me want to write. I can remember standing in a corn field in Iowa and realizing how much further away the sky seems in the midwest. The clouds always seemed to hug the mountains. The other thing I notice is that I find myself looking around for the mountains to orient myself. I dream of mountains still.

Jon Cole said...

I have to thank the "next blog" button for throwing me over to your quirky post about chatting up strangers on a bus. I was never good at that sort of thing either, but then I have always thought of my morning bus ride as a fight against BO and keeping my personal bubble from popping.

Your writing is interesting, endearingly self conscious (as it should be for a poet), and frustrated in a strangely objective way.

I love it.

It reminds me of how many times I've sat at the keyboard trying to force together words into some magical concoction that could actually be described as meaningful, only to have my mind turn completely blank. Just like trying to talk to strangers on a bus it is when I'm trying to fill a public rather than a private space that the words in my head seem particularly tiny, even invisible.

At least you have the courage to claim you're a poet. Killing your shame is half the battle!