Midday it started raining and I just sat in my truck on the bridge to kill time before I was supposed to show up at the used book store. I sat on the passenger side and people probably thought I was waiting on someone but really I was just letting 45 minutes pass. I pulled a book out from under the seat to read a while and thought it was a weird coincidence that the book was Extremely Loud and incredibly Close, a book about September 11. I’ve read that book over and over again but from all different starting points. Never in order. And parts like the elephant crying get to me because I see things like stonehenge in a plate of potato quarters and I like walking the cemetery at night but get sidetracked trying to piece together broken headstones:
I took the world into me, rearranged it, and sent it back out as a question: “Do you like me? –Jonathan Safran Foer
Recently I saw a ghost at the cemetery but that’s a story for another day, so back to sitting there reading in the truck: I saw at least four people I knew walk by. Small town USA. Then I saw a man with a hunting rifle walk by but he’d just come out of the guns and ice cream shop. Totally normal. As I sat there I realized that I could tell when a truck was coming over the bridge, not by the sound it made but by how much the concrete would shake. A freight truck and a beer truck crossed simultaneously and the bridge pretty much went all earthquakey. The speed limit on the bridge is 20 mph but people are always going much faster.
When it’s not raining I like to walk along the shops and the river. Here it seems like they used to build old buildings against old buildings so when a building comes down sometimes the inside of the building is left on the exterior of the one next door. In other words: if you build the first building you have to build 4 walls…but if you build the 2nd or 3rd etc you only have to build 3 walls. The wall on the side of the building near the river says PRO with tan, orange and brown racing stripes all the way down the side…it reminds me of a bowling alley, but I don’t think it was. Buford’s Barbershop is on the corner of the bridge across from the “bowling alley”. Everyone swears it’s structurally sound but I’m worried Buford is going to fall in the river one day. Every few days I visually measure the crack between Buford’s place and the flower shop next door to make sure it’s not getting any wider. I’ve only seen Buford cutting hair once or twice. I think he’s only open when he feels like being open. He’s got a TV with rabbit ears and so I look forward to meeting Buford one day…but maybe outside of the barbershop.
At the bookstore I decided to sweep outside and get some of the cobwebs down. While sweeping I ran into a man I’d met at the coffee shop a few weeks ago. He’d been talking about Kerouac and I oddly enough had brought a book of Kerouac’s journals with me (Windblown World). I gave it to him and told him to just drop it back off at the coffee shop when he was done with it. I didn’t even know his name. But then running into him at the grocery store I recognized him and we said hey and he thanked me for the book. And after talking about Kerouac for a few minutes he told me this haiku he’d written. I can’t remember it word for word so I’m butchering it and it probably isn’t even a haiku anymore since I didn’t even think to count the syllables or phrases or whatever a haiku consists of:
Credit or Debit. The girl at the grocery store speaks to me in frog.
Flipping through the old books in the used book store I end up looking for handwriting. I found this little mouse drawn in a book dated 1898. I could tell it was written with a fountain pen: On the next page was this handwritten poem:
Love is painful it is true, but not to love is painful too, But oh! it gives the greatest pain to love and not be loved again.
I sold a few books today and bought even more. They were books I was looking for so I figure that I technically saved money. One of the new employees at the inn stopped by to say hi and I sold him a magazine. Tonight my friends gave me directions to their house and the directions consisted mostly of: turn left at the gas station and right at the huge rock and when you see the chickens you’ve found us. Walking down to our cottage tonight I dodged a few frogs but spoke to them: credit or debit. credit or debit. Perhaps that’s what they’ve been saying all along. Accounting 101.
We could imagine all sorts of universes unlike this one, but this is the one that happened. –Jonathan Safran Foer