I recently went to a reading by Roxane Gay and I felt, for lack of a less cheesy word, inspired to not think so much about writing. Roxane’s tone made me realize that you don’t have to have incredibly lyrical and confusing language to get a good point across. I mean, I’d love to be lyrical with my writing, but I honestly don’t think I’m up to par. Maybe one day, I suppose. But my point is, you don’t HAVE to have this style to make a great point.
This November marks the 2-year mark of my dad’s death. I’ve written countless poems about it, and even tried to write a short story about it, but it became way too difficult so I had to stop. I’ve found that humor is something I pride myself on, and I’ve even found that during these 2 years, humor has gotten me through a lot of crap. And this is where Roxane Gay’s reading comes in–she’s freaking hilarious. I follow her on Twitter and she cracks me up. So I decided I should try this in my writing.
So here we go I’m just going to write:
I was coming home from work when it happened. I was running for the bus stop, a thick gust in the air. You know how stupid people look when they’re running with a backpack? Yes that was me. I was pretty tired and pissy, to say the least. I had little patience for CATA’s annoying habit of coming at the wrong time. Well, of course I missed it. I watched it pass me as I stood on the median on Michigan Avenue. And here I was, running like an idiot for no reason.
It had already been a shitty day, beginning with an attempt at a cute outfit which ended up being uncomfortable and embarrassing. Walking by “Friendship Manor,” the nearby elderly apartment complex, I ended up giving an old man a show as he nicely informed me that my skirt was tucked into my tights, displaying my pink underwear-covered ass. While I laughed it off, I quickly discovered my face getting hotter walking down the so very LONG road away from this man.
So there I stood— wanting to get home, out of this outfit, and into some sweats—and the bus is driving by me. “Well, fuck,” I breathed. Time to begin trekking home.
I saw the sign at a distance, green, small, and written on with black sharpie. It read “Yard Sale,” and naturally I turned into the small driveway. A pleasant surprise. Maybe I would find a big sweater or old books.
It wasn’t a yard sale at all, as I looked up the tiny garage. An elderly woman was standing there, smiling at me. She wore an oversized floral sweater and a matching off-colored shirt and pant combination. I think old people are adorable, so I greeted her with a smile equal to hers. She asked me how my day was, if I was a student, what grade I was in. I answered happily and went on to see what I could find.
On the left she had little trinkets lining the wall, but in the middle of the garage were filed magazines, books, and newspapers. She had organized them by year and subject.
“What are you studying?” She asked me.
“Oh, I’m English and Professional Writing.” I answered with a smile. She seemed interested to know all she could about me. She told me what interesting majors I have, and that she loves to hear from students about their studies. I saw that she had a lot about advertising, so I told her my best friend and roommate is in advertising and public relations.
“Oh, yes! I advertised with public relations for many years in Chicago! It’s a very good business, and you can find a lot in Chicago,” she said enthusiastically. I got very excited and explained that eventually I want to move to Chicago, and I love the city. I moved on towards the back and found that she had archived posters from all different newspapers. I located one of Lady Gaga with rockets on her breasts and kept it aside for my roommate.
“Have you lived in all of these places?” I asked as I saw New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, and many others.
She grinned and explained, “Oh, yes, at least for a while. I grew up and lived in Chicago for the longest, though.” I fumbled through my coin purse for a quarter, but had none. I told her I would come back to buy the Lady Gaga poster, but she insisted I take it, stating, “I love to support young writers.”
I realized that she was possibly one of the most interesting people I’d ever met. She had lived a long life, and it had probably been both good and bad to her. She collected all of these things to share with others, and she had a story to tell. I also realized I wanted to be just like her. Not in the literal sense—I’m pretty positive I don’t want to be an old lady, and I don’t want to be in advertising, but I want to be able to tell a story when I’m older. Even if I don’t live on Michigan Avenue in East Lansing, Michigan, in a little house with a green sign that says “Yard Sale.”
I left that house with a smile on my face. I carefully held the brown popcorn bag she had rolled the poster into and called my mom. I laughed with her about the interesting people I meet, and that I was so happy I had missed the bus.
(PS I severely know that wasn’t that funny, and also, I’m actually pretty funny. So humor me on this one please *snaps*)