Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A keen eye for detail

The ability to notice, to actively observe and mentally record things in one's life is one of the most important traits a writer can possess.

So you can probably imagine how great it felt when I was out for a walk the other night and suddenly realized that an entire building that used to stand on a major intersection near me had vanished into rubble.

I've been taking a lot of walks lately, and had probably passed the missing building four or five times in just a few days.

The pile of bricks behind a chain-link fence was the former home of the somewhat crappy Lighthouse Diner, which if nothing else served for a time as the only 24-hour eatery in the neighborhood. It was not infrequently filled with transients and neighborhood crazies and always seemed to be right on the verge of spinning off into chaos. I tended to go there in the middle of the night, when the drunken remnants of the local bars would also be pushing themselves in for some pancakes or a hamburger, unwilling or unable to simply go home and let the night end.

I frequently ordered egg sandwiches, if only to marvel at how they never prepared a sandwich even remotely resembling any of the previous egg sandwiches I had had there. Each one was indifferently crafted from a new concept of an egg sandwich by the artists behind the counter. They were like snowflakes.

I once read an entire Nick Hornby book while sitting at the counter in the middle of the night drinking their coffee. I, too, was unwilling or unable to simply go home.

I moved to Colorado, waited two years, moved back. Shortly after my return I wandered ravenous to their door in the small hours to fuel a marathon work session. To my chagrin, I discovered that the Lighthouse now closed at 8pm most nights. I never found myself there again.

So, goodbye, Lighthouse. I'm sorry I stopped coming by.

And I'm sorry I failed to notice that your building was gone.


Unknown said...

Funny how we don't notice things sometimes isn't it? Sounds like it was a wonderfully inspiring place.

Pants said...

Hi Maht

I'm sure your diminished patronage wasn't the cause of the Lighthouse's light going out. What Nick Hornby book was it?



Taffiny said...

I love the egg sandwiches/snowflakes part. Perfect. (you do notice details, all the little differences in the food, it is just big things like buildings you have trouble with).

Some relatives sold their beach house, we walked by this summer, intending to look up at the porch and think about all the years, all the memories, with different generations, meeting there for renunions. Only thing was, it wasn't there. Just a lot of sand (meaning a sand lot) between other buildings. It was so weird, all this history, all this life, happened there, and it is just gone.

I always tend to notice what isn't really there, more than I notice what truly is, or what used to be. Thoughts hang so thickly about, I can never notice what color shirt someone has on, or what kind of car they drive.

Pallav said...

Buildings always make me nostalgic, if i pass by my old school building sometime when i'm home it's like a tornado of memories...

one book in one sitting! With lot of coffee and a small book maybe thats possible :)

it was fun reading this one!



Hoodie said...

I think I'm pretty good at noticing details, just as long as they don't change. Once I have examined/learned something I figure, to a fault, that it's covered and I tend to ignore it after that.

I'm continually shocked when things evolve. You'd think I'd be used to it by now.

Liz Dwyer said...

That is interesting that you just noticed it's absence today. Sometimes though, the things you see every day and the things that happen gradually are the ones that are hardest to notice.

The Moon Topples said...

Ver: Oh, it wasn't. Believe me. I think I made it sound better than it was here...

Pants: About a Boy, which I enjoyed greatly. The film was crap, though.

Taffy: True, perhaps if I had tasted the building I would have noticed it sooner. How food oriented I am. I'm no good with shirts or cars, either. Again, I cannot eat those things.

Nothingman: I read very fast, which certainly helped. A book in a sitting is not all that uncommon for me.

Hoodie: I, too am shocked when things change. Losing two buildings on the same intersection has me going a little nuts. It just seems impossible to me.

Liz: I keep telling myself that it is possible they only knocked it down the previous day, making my observation timely and appropriate.