These Small Details

Posted by on Jul 2, 2017

If a writer stops observing, he is finished. Experience is communicated by small details intimately observed.
-Ernest Hemingway

I think of Hemingway tonight, a larger-than-life character who penned such simple and astonishing sentences. I imagine him keenly observing the life happening around him in bars in Key West, Cuba and Paris. I sit at the Pfister’s lobby lounge bar and watch the flurry of people around me, dashing off page after page of observations in my notebook and realizing I am rarely this aware.

A couple in their seventies shares an hor dourve near the piano. They lean in at the same moment to dip bread. How many times have their fingers brushed through the years? To eat with the same person for that long is to have a second skin.

A two year old girl with a pigtail spraying from the top of her head toddles over to the lion statue. Without missing a beat, she kisses the lion’s foot.

Three men in tuxedos flank a woman in a searingly coral dress. Another observing guest chuckles, “You look like you have three bodyguards.” I think about how the men are probably her brothers, which of course is just another way to have bodyguards.

A woman in damp running gear powerwalks by and looks longingly at the bar.

A peal of laughter from behind a majestic potted palm, and a bellhop spreads his arm wide as wings and takes a bow.

An elderly woman in a wheelchair is pushed past me. I’ve been sitting here for an hour, and she’s the only person I’ve seen who has craned her neck to look at the marvel of a ceiling.

A woman in a floor-length black gown heads towards her date. Seeing him, she curves her neck low as a preening swan and smiles. He rocks back on his heels slightly at the sight of her.

Someone at the front desk has brought their personal pillow as they check in. Maybe she needs the smell of home, the sleep that only comes in your own bed.

A lady in scuffed teal Converse sits next to me, and her pants lift slightly to reveal socks adorned in bright ladybugs. I think of my son’s adoration for ladybugs, and how he will call his grandmother to ask her to save the dusty carcasses she finds on her windowsills so that he can tenderly put them in his bug house and watch them “sleep”.

The tiny girl is back, running unsteadily right past the lion now–they are old chums and don’t need to constantly acknowledge each other.  She shrieks in joy.


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