Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Certain Self Possession

On the topic of writing and not being able to write, Ernest Hemingway wrote, "Write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know."

Or something like that. I can't place my hands on my copy of A Moveable Feast, which to this day remains a favorite of mine. Never mind the tawdry internecine battles over its posthumous publication, it should be read if only for Hemingway's description of hunger and of the sausage he ate in the brasserie after unexpectedly receiving money for selling a story.

One true sentence.

     **The sunrise Thursday morning was gloriously brilliant.

     **At night, I fall asleep with the radiant heat of a corn bag paving the way.

     **Last night, I talked with one of the most charmingly self-possessed young women I have ever met.

That last one I can go with.

We had a (vastly) younger couple over last night. By young, I mean in my son Ben's age range: mid-20s. I have known Doug since high school, as he and Ben were friends and teammates. Danielle is his fiancee; I had heard about her from Doug, but not yet met her.

The stop at our house was supposed to be the briefest of way stations for Doug and Danielle's evening. He was stopping by to meet and talk with Warren about the Symphony; she, an aspiring rare book appraiser, was coming by to look at a book in Warren's library. (It wasn't rare; no Antiques Roadshow moment here, folks.)

In arranging the evening, Doug and I had estimated perhaps a half hour. They were off to dinner and a night of board games with friends afterwards, so I made no plans for drinks, for appetizers, for anything.

Well, it didn't turn out that way. The conversation started quickly and took on a life of its own, as good conversations will. The Civil War, children's literature, the Symphony, downtown Cincinnati, Japan, Frank Lloyd Wright, music, vellum, Christmas trees, the First Folio, Archimedes, and the Gutenberg Bible, to name a few, were all part of the evening. It was as wide ranging a conversation as we have had with any of our closest friends.

It was only with reluctance (and guilt that we had gone on so long and I hadn't set out any food) that I finally felt compelled to say, "We've kept you from your friends and your plans!" Shortly after that, Doug and Danielle drove off in the light snow, while Warren and I turned to making our now very late supper.

This morning I woke with the evening still on my mind. It has been a long time (and not something we often do as a couple) since we had spent an evening talking with such young adults in such a free floating way. I found myself hoping they did not leave last night saying, "Thank God, I thought we were never going to get away from there."

And Danielle made an impression on me. She is bright and witty and down to earth all at the same time, with a good, hearty laugh, a combination I like in anyone, but especially in young women. And she was stylish and put together in a graceful, subtle way that I have never achieved, and certainly could not have even begun to attempt when I was her age.

I commented on that last fact this morning.

"Well, she probably puts a little more time into it than you do, " Warren mused.

Well, yes. Isn't that the whole point of looking put together: putting a little more time into it? And haven't I gotten to the point where I can pick and choose where to put the time I have? My point was more that some women, of any age, possess that innate sense of being put together and I do not.

But that's not what this post is about. It's not about my lack of style, or what I was or wasn't at age 27 or am or am not at age 55. And that's not what last night was about. Last night was about the talk and the topics.  Last night was about shouts of laughter and murmurs of agreement. Last night was about exploring architecture and music and medieval manuscripts. And last night was about one of most charmingly self-possessed young women I have ever met.

One true sentence.


Sharon said...

Sounds like a very nice evening, April. I do like your writing style...perhaps you should write more? :)!

Miss you!!

Terri said...

May she come across this post! The conversation sounds delightful...and proves the point I often make to my colleagues that our students are bright in ways we may never guess.

see you there! said...

Your description of your evening is so engaging, so well written. More than ONE true sentence in there.


Jenny Woolf said...

I love talking with people in their 20s and 30s. It is a pity that we will inevitably gravitate towards people who have the same preoccupations and problems as ourselves and of course old friends grow older along with us.

I feel very blessed that our grown up kids are nearby and include us in their lives to some extent.

Your updates don't seem to be appearing on my feed by the way, I am not sure what to do about this.

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