If you give an alien a photograph of Pretty People Laughing, he is going to want to know where all the Pretty People went.
I spent the morning wanting to kick the genius who brought an extraterrestrial into my bedroom.
I’ll admit to throwing up my hands to the gods of Creativity this morning and confessing that I had nothing to fill a blog post with only to desperately prowl through Google searches for creative writing prompts.
And lucky me, I stumbled upon the stunning ingenuity of this creative writing prompt this morning, probably written by a second grader:
Write about giving an alien a tour of your bedroom….
One) Why would an alien ever want to chill in my bedroom? How is that even fun?
Two) I tend to think it would be far more interesting to plant the little sucker smack dab in New York City, shove a latte in its 81-eyed face, and see just how quickly he begins squawking over the car horns and constant bustle. I’d to show my little martian how a city can flow with a lifeblood of caffeine and ambition and make him pay for years of his ancestor ET taunting me at bedtime.
But alas the alien sits on my bed. Looks around my room. Rifles through UNICEF pamphlets, and comes to a complete stop in front of a wall filled with love letters and photographs.
“What are these?” my alien asks, running his 24 fingers along the edges of the sepia-toned 4x6.
“Photographs. We humans use them to keep memories.”
“Yes, memories. We like to keep things from our past. To prove we have been places, to prove we have held hands and kissed foreheads. It seems pretty funny now that I am actually stopping to think about it.”
“Hm,” my little alien lets out a sigh, seeming almost disinterested. “Where are all these people?”
His eyes are sitting on a photograph of me surrounded by a group of girls. We are all laughing. Smiling. Dressed up and ready for the world.
“Well…. They are everywhere. All over the place.”
“No, not here.” I think for a second or two, how to explain an abstract concept such as this to my pint-sized, green friend. “But here,” I say, pointing to my heart. Maybe he is like ET, maybe he will get that.
“But not here,” he just repeats.
“No. Not here.” I sit down on the bed beside my friend, or at least I am hoping we are getting pretty close to crossing that friend line. His antennae are pretty cute.
“I may not understand that,” he begins. “Why would you be so far in miles, I think that’s what you call them, from people that you adore? Wouldn’t you like them to be right here?”
“Yes Mr. Alien, I would like that very much. But it doesn’t always work that way. I have gotten pretty good at missing people.”
“Missing people.” He traces the words from every angle, staring straight ahead as he ponders. “Missing people.”
“Yea, it’s not so uncommon. You will find a lot of people in this city who are doing it everyday.”
“Can you tell me what it is?”
“Well, before you miss someone you have to know them. It starts by forming a million little attachments to a single soul. They build and build the more time you spend connected to someone. The more you let another soul ruminate within your own. That’s where those memories I was telling you about come from. People begin living in Sights. Sounds. Smells.
But missing happens when you have to go away from someone. And not be there anymore. Or when someone has to go away from you. And not be there anymore.”
Just explaining the concept makes me feel as if the holes I have so diligently tried to fill unearth themselves before this one who is not of this earth.
“And that’s when you hope the million little strands will serve their purpose, that they will be strong enough to keep you connected even when very far apart.”
“It doesn’t make much sense. You could just be with one another and not have to worry about these million little attachments. And not hurt so much.” Smart little sucker.
“You are right. It doesn’t seem to make much sense sometimes but its how we humans live. We grow up, we grow apart, we move on, we chase dreams and other things we are sure will make us happy.”
“Do the attachments always stay? Do you hold them tight enough?”
“No, not always. You see, life to you and your “people” is about surviving, breathing, and consuming energy. We humans have this obsession with living beyond that, with feeling intensely and driving one another crazy.
Of putting so much weight on these three words that make people go absolutely insane.
I love you.
Those are the words.
People stay because of them; people walk away when they are left unsaid. We keep things to ourselves even when we should speak them out loud to one another. And we walk away when we just want to stay. Because that’s how life works, I guess.”
“Stay.” His voice echoes with familiarity, as if he has pocketed the word before.
“Yes, stay…. It means…”
“I think I understand what stay means. We use that word all the time.”
“Well then you and I have more in common than I thought, Mr. Alien.”
“Perhaps,” he says. “But I sense difference. My people ask for one another to stay all the time and they do. They stay. It doesn’t seem like many people in this space stay for long enough.”
“Well, the word means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Sometimes its too painful to stay, sometimes it's not even an option. But the word is certainly teaching me a lot this year."
"Then that is a very good thing, perhaps I am sensing you wish you stayed more often?" My little buddha of an alien asks.
Before I can answer, he interjects.
"Here, I will practice with you right now. Let's practice staying and see how it feels."