I was reading over some of my old writings from around ten years ago, when something struck me. They were so rich with flavor, like for example, "To Build a House." I reflected with disappointment on my current work. It’s so immediate, so sparse, so "get to the point." Perhaps it’s this Internet age that is upon us. I feel like it’s shaped my writing in a negative fashion. Where before I would indulge in the senses, the details of a particular scene, I now hog-tie it down like a starving maniac. Got to get to the point, quick before someone comes along and takes my scrap of meat. And wild-eyed and ravenous, I babble forth matter of fact prose like a recluse who hadn’t spoken in years. Bah! How lazy, how shallow, and how tasteless it has all become.
So, I dug up an old piece that I wrote in the North of Spain. I hope by posting it here, it will remind me what I should be doing.
I met Laura in front of the cathedral in Renteria, near where we were going to eat. She looked lovely, happy to be out in the festivities of a Basque celebration of culture. Loudspeakers broadcast Basque music into the echoing walls of the plaza. Young people, intermingled with the old, gathered amongst the posters for freedom, and graffiti covering the ages old stained stone. We walked hand in hand to a small restaurant near the church and sat down in a small wooden alcove. Warm deep rich paneling and beams of rough hewn logs surrounded us. The waitress approached.
"For to start, we have mixed salad, stuffed peppers, and rice with chicken."
"I would like the mixed salad," I said.
Laura decided to have the stuffed peppers. The woman hurried off, and I said to Laura, "I have been inspired this morning on the new issue."
"Oh, I’m so glad for you."
"I’ve been thinking about a lot of things, and it’s got me all excited. I feel so invigorated. Everything’s flowing."
"Well, I’m just glad we’re finally feeding you, it’s probably because you haven’t eaten in two days, loopy man."
"Nevermind that, it’s the artist’s life. Seriously, I just haven’t noticed. It’s easy to do. Other things have been feeding me, or gnawing at me, can’t say which." I looked at her. "This issue has awakened a lot within. I think people have forgotten."
"Oh, I don’t know, sensuality. It’s like Hemingway’s ‘Snows of Kilimanjaro’ ‘…He gave them up for richer and richer women.’ It’s like people just upped and walked away from themselves. Hell, it’s like the entire world is walking away from itself. Spielberg’s Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up, but did eventually. He forgot. He forgot himself, who he was, what he truly was. He walked away and ended up bashing fantasy, giving into the nature that says there can be nothing separate from my experience. To believe in fantasy is false. There is no magic, no wonder. And Pan ceased to exist."
"What a beautiful thought." She smiled at me.
The waitress brought our appetizers, some bread, and some cider, all Basque staples. I dug into the bread dipping it liberally into the vinegar and oil on my mixed salad. I mopped some of the mixture from the anchovies strung out over the top."
"Ummm, hon, can you hand me one of your tomatoes. They look really good." She looked longingly in the direction of my tangy red garnishes.
"Sure, but only if I can have some of your sauce." I reached across with a piece of bread and mopped the cheesy tasty liquid running out of her pimientos rellenos. "Oh, man that’s good." She smiled a satisfied smile at me as we dug into our food.
I said, "At least we’re both getting the bacalao, so you can’t steal any of that."
"But, I do so much like stealing your food. Maybe just a piece?"
"Okay, dear," I rolled my eyes.
"Oh, are you going to eat your olive?"
"No, you know I don’t like them. Here." I passed my olive to her plate. "Okay you eat the olives, I’ll drink the cider, since I don’t expect I’m going to get any help from you."
She popped the olive into her mouth. "That’s what makes us such a good match. I eat the things you don’t like, and you finish my coffee, tea, wine, and cider." Laura laughed.
The waitress returned and took our plates, polished clean of every morsel, every speck of food. "Man that was good," she said.
"I know," and I poured us each some more cider.