The fresh cut lime smells like

fresh cut limeSome days I wish I could just stop writing. It would make for an easier life, to be sure. Pleasant meals and television and planning for the holidays. Shopping for scarves and boots and gloves. Making a list and picking up the items at the grocery. It would make for living life and being part of it instead of always being an observer. Instead of always being outside looking in. Always re-framing every experience immediately into words. It’s an illness, of sorts. An obsession.

I think if I were to stop writing, it would take me a step closer to placid. It would make for a quieter  life. But even as I cook a meal, there is noise in my head. “The inside of the potatoes smell like turned soil and winter.” “The fresh cut lime smells like hope and gusto.” “The carrots remind her of Spain.” It would be so much simpler to simply cut the potatoes and the lime. To peel and dice the carrots and toss them into the soup. To be able to look out the kitchen window and see glimpses of the evening sky through the trees and not feel compelled to try to find the name for that particular shade of blue.

The other day I watched as a woman stepped into a crosswalk and almost got hit by a car. It freaked her out. She jumped back three steps and then moved toward the car and then backed away. I was sitting in my car waiting for a break in opposing traffic, watching all of this. And while I was concerned for the woman’s well-being and glad she had missed that close call, what was in my head as I drove away was: “And then she carried on, but everything about her day had changed. The snow on the backs of the geese resting along the shore of the Charles looked a little bit whiter. The air seemed a little bit crisper. She noticed, when the late afternoon sun slanted across the tops of beech trees, how it turned the bark a pale shade of rose. When she arrived home that evening, the smell of her husband’s skin was just a little bit cleaner and a little bit more complex than it had been that morning before they got out of bed. When she pressed her face against the warm skin on his neck, the scent of him pulled her in just a little bit tighter.”


image courtesy of thelibraryman


2 thoughts on “The fresh cut lime smells like

  1. Beautiful piece! I can relate to seeing everything as a potential story. Just so you know, my nonfiction class read your piece “The Glass Ocean” and we all agreed it was stunning if not terribly sad. We ended up discussing whether it should be classified as non-fiction or a fiction and decided it didn’t really matter because it was so great. Please don’t stop writing.

  2. Thank you, Amber – this really made my day!

    “The Glass Ocean” is fiction – it is definitely a short story based on a true event that has haunted me for years and that just seemed ‘safer’ to approach as fiction, at the time. And while the ‘emotional landscape’ is accurate and true and some of the events that happen in the story are based on real-life events, there are many things I just made up. My mother was never a marine biologist, for instance, and my father was never a birdman. I’ve never been in California and have never lived with a lobsterman. Those things, however, created opportunities for metaphors that could effectively convey the emotions of the situation.

    I am currently working on the non-fiction version – a book-length memoir. And although it will be pure, 100% fact and true and honest, I am striving to craft it in a way that I hope will not allow it to be easily categorized as ‘fiction’ or ‘non-fiction’ upon reading. I want the reader to be able to pause and wonder, “Is this a novel? Or is this true?”

    People have been telling me for years that no writer could possibly make up some of the details of things I’ve lived through, so I’ve decided to just go ahead and work with what’s there, no improvision!

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