I spent three hours today on a boat by myself with sixty or so strangers, two books, and a notepad. The situation was a kettle, a few teabags and a deep mug away from perfection, let me tell you. I live for long trips. If, in the rare case that I’ve neglected to bring some sort of reading material, I can occupy myself by exploring the many corners of my brain. I can’t even begin to tell you how many characters I’ve dreamed up on family road trips; most of them I use right away if I feel that I can’t get to know them well enough for a full-on novel venture. Sometimes though, sometimes I’m introduced to a boy or a girl that just won’t go away. I’ll get a funny image, and blow it up, and stretch it until I’ve got some more information, and by the time I’m satisfied, I’ve got a fully rounded– usually obnoxious, loud and mouthy– person in my head.
Gracie was one of those characters. I’ve had her hiding in there for awhile; long enough for family and friends to start joining the pack, and by the time I clued into what was happening, I had the tools to bring every single one of them to life. With three hours to kill, I started getting to know Gracie and the five-odd people that came with her. I had a blue ballpoint and a little Marvel-themed pocketbook (I keep my grocery lists in there… desperate times call for desperate measures, right?) and as the boat took off from the dock, I sat in my chair and I bled as much of them as I could onto the tiny little scraps of paper I had left. When I was satisfied that enough of their story had been told for the afternoon (also, I was running out of space), I put them away for a bit–I’m sorry, I’ll let you all back out later, I promise— and picked up someone else’s brain babies.
I’ve not had a chance to read much of Neil Gaiman, but he’s an author I’ve wanted to check out for a very long time. I picked up American Gods at a used book store where I live months ago, but without time to read, I put it away for a little bit. This week, a friend lent me another of his stories: The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It’s only about 180 pages or so, and I ate it up in two, hour and a half long sessions. Talk about a haunting tale. The beauty of this man’s words mixed with the fog swirling over stormy waters that looked green from where I was sitting, and all I could think about was how perfect my surroundings were for a story of that magnitude. For a small book, Gaiman’s narrative really packs a punch. If anyone is interested in a review, I might do one, I loved it that much.
A final note on public transport: there was easily over a hundred people in total on the boat today. No one gave any notice to anyone that they hadn’t known before. There were many, but each acted as though they were all alone. I find this to be the case on other modes of travel, too. Except for planes. Planes bring strangers together.
I wonder what happened to making friends on the bus?
Am I the only person who enjoys people-watching, or is that weird now?