Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Best Sandwich I Ever Ate

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but stop trying to be so original. Your genius is hiding in someone else’s ideas, someone else’s project.”

These are the written words I woke up to this morning as part of my writing challenge with Jeff Goins and his The 15 Habits of GreatWriters Challenge.

He encouraged us to steal, to lend our own spin of creativity on someone else’s idea. He told us to give up on our pursuit of originality and genius and just find inspiration.

I’m sure all writers do it, steal a conversation they over heard, and turn it into a topic idea, embellish someone else’s truth.  Maybe they listen to a loved one’s problem and turn it into a blog post. I remember clearly one of the times I stole an idea. I wanted to write a poem, but I was not feeling any particular pain or sadness, or the ethereal knowledge of some kind of love. I looked around the room I was in and saw a Harlequin Novel. I picked it up and flipped it over to read its synopsis. It was about a blind lover or something or other. I just know there was a blind person in the story and that’s all I needed. So I wrote a poem, I still remember...

Blind Lover

He cannot see my beauty

He cannot see the curls in my hair

He feels the softness of my skin,

He tastes the sweetness of my kiss.

He fills my mind, with thoughts, only of him.

Who is he?

He is my beautiful Blind Lover

I was thirteen, what the hell did I know? Stealing right, I think it is.

I have so many ideas for magazine articles swirling around in my head; I even have a list of topics that I keep. One day while having lunch outside with my family, flipping through my magazine, this is what happens. I turn the page; see the title, The Best Sandwich I Ever Ate, and in disgust I throw down my magazine and declare, “This wench stole my idea!” In fact she didn’t, The Best Sandwich I Ever Ate was still floating in my head and hadn’t even made it to a piece of paper yet! So you know what, because it’s my challenge of the day, I’m going to copy and I am going to write my own version of The Best Damn Sandwich I Ever Ate! Right Now, the one that has been dancing in my head for years, yes I said years! Here it goes! I may just leave out the damn though.

The Best Sandwich I Ever Ate

I’m in Phoenix, Arizona, for Spring Break of my 16th year. We flew out here, my friend and I. This is our own little adventure. Her brother and his friend drove us across the U.S border to catch a flight from Fargo to Minneapolis and on to Phoenix. It is my first time on an airplane. We have a male flight attendant. He told us he was the pilot, and when the voice came over the speaker preparing us for take-off, he winked at us, acknowledging his playful little lie. I was scared shitless of crashing, but my friend held my hand!

I love the heat of Arizona, the big old cacti in the desert, the turquoise jewelry at every flea market, the thermal radiation you see when you look at the highway and the heat rises off of the tar. I love my friends Grandparents, who have taken us in for the week or so of Spring Break. I call them my Grandma and Grandpa, because I don’t have my own.

I tell you, this Grandma makes a mean tomato sandwich! I don’t know if tomatoes grow differently out here in Arizona, but they are sweet and succulent and if it’s at all possible, they taste like the lovely bright, hot red that they are! Grandma slathers them with full fat mayonnaise, on white soft bread. The bread is so soft, that when you bite down into this sandwich, the bread sticks to the roof of your mouth. She shakes more salt and pepper on than I know a mom would allow, and she passes the plate with her petite wrinkled hand with long painted nails and offers up a smile. We feast on this sandwiches almost daily for lunch.

I love our nights, spent just my friend and I, in the hot tub, smoking American cigarettes, in the warm, night air. We submerge our heads in the hot water, come up for a drag of our smoke, and belt out the lyrics to Sinead O Connor’s “Nothing Compares to You”, trying to mend our teenage broken hearts.

I dream sometimes of that perfect tomato sandwich, the best sandwich I ever ate, and I am thankful, for the taste in my mouth, the friendship that grew fast and turbulent, the love and adventure in my heart. I think sometimes that the best damn sandwich I ever ate had nothing to do with the sandwich at all.

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