Found my old teen scrapbook, in which I wrote prose and drew pictures, as a pastime. This is seventeen years old! Wrote that at a time when ironically, I had given up on love. (Sad at such a young age). One could dream anyway, right? The poem in the middle reads:
“When the warming arms of the
Misty morning sun
Gently stretch into the
I’ll wake up to you.“
Man, I was a sucker for romance. But life changes that along the way.
Along with my scrapbook, were my sketchbooks. From at least thirteen years ago. I used to draw female forms a lot. Faces. Hands. Then tried male forms, one of which was sketching Enrique from a cd cover. Back when I used to be a fan of his. Another thing that changed along the way to the present moment. Not so much a fan anymore.
There’s even an attempt at charcoal, long since abandoned.
I haven’t drawn in years. SO I really enjoyed finding these again. What makes it even more poignant, is that lately I’ve been feeling lost. And these took me right back to a place I thought I had long forgotten.
Do you still have your childhood or teen scrapbooks, sketchbooks, stories?
Not all who wander are lost. And yet sometimes some of us who wander are lost. Lost in the daily grind and the call of the road, the ocean or the mountains is irresistible.
Ironically, travel makes me feel more at home. I am not as well-traveled as other globetrotters, but the places I’ve visited have left a mark on my soul. And I’ve decided to start sharing some of these experiences right here.
I’ve received many questions about the header image of my blog. And yes, it is a picture I took myself. While on a tour in Venice.
I arrived in this Northern Italian city on Trenitalia, a comfortable intercity train, from Torino. If you ever go to Italy, go to Torino. This is my home in Italy. It doesn’t have the tourist sights and magic and commercial business attraction like the other cities. However, nestled on the border of Germany they have a unique culture blended from Germanic-Italian roots, that you won’t find anywhere else. And it is the home of Nutella. Need I say more?
Stepping out of the Santa Lucia train station I was hit by a sense of intense surrealism. Boats, gondolas, ferries right off the station steps took me into another world. I was tempted to stamp my feet on the ground, feel my face to make sure I was really there in person. And not in some kind of insane dream. There are no roads in Venice; I knew that. Yet to see this first hand was fantastic. In other cities, you exit the station onto the tarmac. Here, you just about step into the Grand Canal.
During a walking tour of Venice, our group squeezed through the tiniest calles (streets, or alley-like walkways unique to Venice). One particular calle was half a metre wide. I was still pondering the measurements of it when I passed by a doorway. Glancing inside as I walked past it I saw the most intriguing sight.
I was the last in the group so I didn’t stop. The others were not as impressed by this doorway as I was and had marched on ahead spilling out into a spacious courtyard. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I looked back and it called to me. Taking a risk of losing the group and getting lost in Venice, something which happens too easily in that maze of calles, I hurried back to the doorway.
The sight of moulding books, together with wheelbarrows, crates and a car bonnet was so unexpected that it was hypnotic. Also what was with those painted footprints? The postcard rack and table and chairs made it appear to be some kind of shop. But it was deserted. No shopkeeper. No customers. I longed to go inside, explore it and perhaps an eccentric bookshop owner will emerge with whom I could spend the entire afternoon talking. Over cappuccinos. I snapped a few pics, took one last longing look at this mysterious place and went back to the tour group who were already disappearing into another calle.
I intended to go back later that day. But Venice being what it is, you cannot navigate it easily. Not all the Calles have name signs, so even a map will not be much help. Tip: Google maps is not much better either. I glimpsed a man reading a map, turning it this way and that, looking at his surroundings, scratching his head. This was a sign which I ignored at my peril.
I did get lost in Venice. Later that afternoon. After the tour ended, I decided to explore, underestimating the complexities of the city walkways. Every courtyard looked the same. Hundreds of bridges and calles everywhere. When I thought I could retrace my steps I found myself on the other side of the city. By the Ponte Rialto bridge.
I panicked. My train back to Torino was leaving in half an hour. Not only that, but in another hour, dusk would fall and I had no desire to feel my way through the dark. Asking for directions didn’t help. Some suggested I take a boat on the Canal back to the station. But I needed to return back to my hotel to collect my backpack. Eventually, I found an old man reading a newspaper on a stool. I thought he was sitting idle, but it turned out he was watching his kiosk a few feet away. He was reluctant to help me get back to the station. I offered him money. He gladly changed his mind.
Already embarrassed at my situation it was even more embarrassing to find I could not keep up with the old man’s strides. Venetians are fit! With long graceful strides that are deceivingly brisk. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t drive to work and instead tramp along the cobbled calles every day to every place you need to go.
Half jogging behind him, shopping bags in hand full of souvenirs and gifts, I burst out in laughter when I finally saw the sign of my hotel. Thanking him in Italian, (it’s amazing what you remember in moments of panic or joy) I had five minutes to get to the station.
I never made it. Trains in Italy run on time. I was hoping for three minutes delay, but no such luck. As I ran into the station, the train pulled away. Forced to buy another ticket, I sat down and appreciated the fact that I had one more hour in this magical city.
Venice has many names. It is called City of Bridges or City of Canals. For me I will always remember it as the City that Humbled Me. Getting lost was one of the most frightening experiences of my life. And now as it’s unique little bookshop image squats happily on the header of my blog, it has taken up a literary space in my heart. Full of wonder, magic, possibilities and mis-guided adventures.
He shut the closet door and sank into the darkness. Mark clasped his hands over his ears to silence the buzzing. But he was helpless against the visions that replayed in his mind.
Blood. On a single gold hoop earring. Matted brown hair. He tasted bile in the back of his throat.
Three days later his wife’s body was found near the beach and he was arrested. The detective presented the evidence bag containing the stained earring they found in his car. Nausea enveloped him as he tried to remember. He had kissed her goodnight. But after that – nothing.
I struggled with this image. Everytime I tried to think of something, all I could see was crinoline… Probably because I had read Rochelle’s post first.
So I went back to my thriller roots, and saw jewellery instead in those suspended circular artwork things. I’m not sure if my main MC is guilty or not. Looking forward to seeing your thoughts in the comments. Thank you, Dale Rogerson, my friend, for this week’s image!
Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. The challenge is to write a story in 100 words or less. Click the blue frog icon to read more flash fiction from other super cool writers.
Sweaty palms and a knotted stomach would not stop her. As a model she never thought she’d take off her clothes for money. But she had to eat and she had to pay the rent on her tiny apartment. All temporary until she got noticed, of course.
“Melody, are you ready?” a man with a silly french beret peeked out from behind a heavy door.
Nodding, she followed him into the whitewashed room. With a tug her robe loosened and fell to the floor. As Melody posed, serious faces peered out from behind easels. Eyes darting from model to canvas.
Hope you enjoyed this flash fiction. Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by leading lady in flash fiction, Rochelle. Write a story in 100 words or less.
Click here to read other’s flash fiction and get a different perspective of the same image. Thanks to Ted Strutz for this week’s curious image.
Click here to read other’s flash fiction and get a different perspective of the same image.
Photo prompt provided by Louise with The Storyteller’s Abode. Thank you Louise!
The colours drew him into another world and he was lost. Lost in the most beautiful of escapes. The painting was exquisite. The subtle touches of light against dark, the soft brush strokes conveying the tone of the entire painting; tranquility.
The chatter of people brought him back to the real world. For once he was glad to be in the world of the living. He was next in line to have the antiquity examined at the travelling roadshow of experts. The sun was out, the surrounding fields a spring green. Like a painting. He smiled to himself. He was a living subject of this delicate work of art.
Passed down through his grandmother, it was hidden in the corridors and attics of his family. He needed expert confirmation. Because if it was authentic, it would mean an undiscovered masterpiece.
The expert in arts and literatures bent to examine the canvas, the signature and the layers of paint. He frowned, then straightened slowly, his mouth numbly conveying the sweetest words. “It’s a Monet…”
I am a product of a society that valued left brain logical intelligence. A graduate of a school system in a developing african country chasing economic GDPs of the future, that dabbled in creativity but applauded and sought to churn out mathematicians, scientists and accountants. A Muslim individual from a global collective seeking to find its worthy place in modern society and who lost sight of its creative instincts in the likes of the poets Rumi and Rabia and the free thinkers and artists of the medieval Golden Age of Muslim Spain.
Following your own path is a daunting one. It means going through the woods alone. At night. In the middle of a wretched winter. While the rest of the flock stay warm and dry in the barn. This is the path of trials and tribulations where you discover yourself.
I’ve always loved words and writing. I would repeat words and let it roll off my tongue. I liked it so much that the English language didn’t have enough words for me, so I learned foreign ones to taste a culture through its words. But I hid what I loved under what seemed ‘reasonable’ – reporting. Not reporting with words, no. Financial reporting. I ended up in the world of finance and accountants, where I suspect many closet-creatives hide. It seems to be the default career choice for those caught unsure of their next step after high school.
Through the numbers, my passion called to me. It spoke through the joy I found in writing reports, business plans, emails and letters. My heart soared when we were handed essays for university assignments, while most of my friends and classmates groaned. Anything to do with words appealed to me.
Yet it took many years for me to hear what it had to say, which was to follow this path to whatever destiny awaits.
Getting started was difficult. I had severe mental blockages and deeply rooted fears. This was more of a problem when it came to writing fiction as it seemed less important and unnecessary. I had no issues with non-fiction writing and journalism having successfully written these in the past. Passing on information was useful, telling stories was not.
Instead of trying to untangle the mess of psychological knots formed over more than three decades, I did a simple mental persuasion. I searched for evidence to outweigh my fears. The irony of resorting to logic to unlock my creativity did not elude me. But juxtaposition is the beauty of life in motion.
For art to be good for something, it has to be useful. (Remember, this is pure rationalising. In truth art is expression, is the end in itself) I discovered that what I valued most about words and writing was what it achieved: communication.
Art in all its forms; movies, books, photographs, pictures and stories is the human experience in a tangible form. Then it is converted back into human experience through emotions evoked by the artistic piece. It becomes communication on an emotional maybe even a spiritual level.
And with that I took my first tentative steps onto my own authentic path. I do not know where I’m headed and the woods are cold and dark. There are times when the light breaks through, and I see the flowers that grow on the wayside, flowers I haven’t seen before. They are beautiful. They take my breath away.