I spent a lot of time as a child sifting through handfuls of limestone. I’d shove the occasional fossil or colorful pebble into my pink corduroy pocket as I boarded Bus Number 2. My Mom would wave goodbye from the picture window and laugh when I boarded the wrong bus…to my defense, there were two number 2 buses. The only difference between them was the style of the painted number until I was either greeted by a bus full of my usual noisy confidantes, or an empty bus with a chuckling old lady at the wheel. I could never remember which was which when the stars would align for simultaneous stopping at the end of our gravel driveway.
This particular rock (or whatever it is…I’ve never been too sure) I’ve had for thirty years! Over this time, I’ve collected a lot more of other little artifacts that have caught my eye.
Recently Matthew and I were driving back from a hike through Washington Park and we were talking about what we saw. He had mentioned something that I didn’t even notice and the conversation went this way –
Matthew: I can’t believe you didn’t notice **whatever it was**! How could you miss it?
Me: I don’t know. I pay attention to the wrong things. I’ve been noticing that lately. For instance, I can’t even tell you what color it was, but I can tell you that you have an eyelash on your cheek.
That’s about how it goes – I seem to notice the small stuff especially when it comes to people I’m talking to – a mustache hair out-of-place seeming to defy gravity while all of its fellow hairs are neatly combed down, an eyelash on a cheek, a speck of lipstick on a front tooth, the directional pattern of wrinkles and pores, the way the shadow falls off a brow so dramatically that their skin looks royal blue.
It extends to thinking about my hometown of Angola, Indiana. I don’t remember the street names as much as I remember the cracks and potholes in the road and the upraised edges of sidewalks where tree roots are breaking through. I can tell you how to get from Angola Middle School to downtown Angola in terms of concrete cracks, angles, and dirt on the sidewalk – if they have repaved, which they probably have sometime in the last thirty years, that same walk would feel like a foreign land.
My memories have very little to do with my conscious thoughts of the town itself, but everything to do with mostly meaningless images that have captured my eye. What about you? Are there any conversations in your past that you remember by the sight of a shadow? A crack in cement, or a tree branch? Do you pay attention to the wrong things too?