I came across a box of old photographs in a flea market the other day and stopped, as usual, to sift through them. Finding a poignancy in each image - bare sketches of lives left lying unclaimed - I was most compelled by these two. With the photos tucked in my pocket, I walked around with scarcely half a mind on the push and noise of real life and the rest filling up with stories about that couple and the pair of girls.
I dropped money, stepped on a dog and walked so hard into the corner of a table that I knocked over a water bottle and spilled coffee out of cups. That I also cried out (loudly) in pain, directly over the heads of the couple busily mopping up the remains of their quiet breakfast, made the ferocious embarrassment more unbearable. But at least I have these new photographic people to wonder about and no longer blush hotly when I remember my shame.
I think instead about their stories. I think about my stories: those ones I tell myself about my self, my memories, my life. I look at these strangers in the photographs and myself in the glare of the screen; glaring slightly with concentration and seeming a stranger to myself. Sometimes I wonder if the reason I write is because making up stories about other people is frankly more straightforward than sorting out the truth of my own.