Seeing Things Differently

I once read a description of the color of a woman’s skin that has stayed with me for years. Unfortunately, I don’t know where I read it, nor who wrote it, but it stuck with me. The description said a woman’s skin was the color of wood.  I think that, when I read it, I imagined a piece of two by four pine lumber, fresh from the lumberyard, with its light yellows and vanilla and beige swirls.

Looking down at my forearms, I don’t think of the color of wood, pine or otherwise. I think, instead, of distressed and neglected blonde leather, cow hide exposed to the elements.

When I look in the mirror at the sand and grey and silver mop on my head, I see pewter sitting in a dust storm, dealing with a similar pattern of neglect.

My eyes are not the brown I’ve always said they are. No, they are rings of craggy, short slivers of green and gold and brown compressed into dark beige circles and surrounded by white that’s punctuated with red and pink blood vessels.

I tend not to look long and deep enough at what I see before me.  When I force myself to look, hard, I see things that hide in plain sight.

It’s not just color, either. It’s texture. I am looking down at the top of a little old corner desk that is crying out to be refinished. Because it’s a corner desk, the wood grain that “normally” would be either horizontal or vertical is, instead, angled at about forty-five degrees. For reasons a designer might understand, a close-up look at that angled wood grain makes the old desk look modern and Asian to me, though stepping back from it clearly corrects that misperception.

Back to my skin, the leather looks dry and fragile, like it could split at any moment. Maybe the look of fragility comes from the scales I see, but that disappear on closer inspection.

I am writing to write this morning, not because I have anything to say. Some mornings, that’s just the way it is. Well, I have things to say, I just am not prepared to say them.

I started writing something else this morning.  Here’s how I started:

A fine mist of bacon grease erupted with each strip of thick bacon Jim laid in the black cast iron skillet.

“Oh, that’s a grand smell, isn’t it?” he asked Derrick, the Irish setter sitting expectantly on its haunches beside him in front of the stove. “You know you’re not getting any of this, don’t you? Well, maybe one piece if you’re good and you don’t tell Jenny.”

Jenny wouldn’t be up for another hour, so Derrick’s chances of getting a piece of bacon were good. The dog’s eyes shifted from the pan to Jim and back again as he lifted one front paw, then the other, then repeated the process in a quiet but energetic flurry of activity. Jim looked down at the restless pet, cocking his head to mimic the dog. “If that’s patience, Derrick, I don’t want to see you when you’re over-eager.”

It was too much like a Norman Rockwell painting for my liking. Derrick may get dressed up a little. Perhaps he begins to show signs of rabies? Probably not.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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