Omission and commission

I’ve been thinking lately about the things we say without saying.

There are much more capable voices than mine out there talking about why we need diverse books, and about how a lack of representation doesn’t have to be intentional to be significant. But recently, one conversation reminded me of the time I stumbled on an essay I wrote in ninth grade. It says “character” at the top, so I suppose I was only supposed to describe someone without any need for context.

I dug around and, for your amusement, have reproduced it faithfully (it was painful) below:

The young man hopped out of his car, and ran to unlock the door. As he walked into the indoor pool area, he tossed his towel onto a nearby chair. In one fluid motion the athlete pulled his shirt over his head and threw it carelessly on top of the towel.

Logan Craig was an Olympic hopeful for diving, but with his finely chiseled features and rugged good looks, he looked more like a model for a statue of a Roman God. Logan had a shock of unruly black hair falling almost to his heavy black brows. But Logan’s most arresting feature were his vivid, intelligent green eyes, surrounded by long lashes any girl would kill for.

Moving to the edge of the pool with a cat’s easy motion that belied his muscular chest and athlete’s build, Logan prepared to swim his laps.

Logan pulled himself dripping out of the water after his laps, and sat on the side catching his breath. He always enjoyed letting his muscles fall into the familiar patterns, working out the tensions of the past day.

Then, with the sinewy grace that characterized his gait, the diver crossed to the diving platform. As he ascended the slick steps, Logan tried to concentrate on the dive he was going to try to work the flaw out of.

At the top, Logan took a deep breath and moved to the edge, his Irish eyes intent on his purpose. Then, suddenly, he jumped up, hit the board, and sprung up and out, entered a series of flip and twists. The crystal clear water rose to meet him as Logan completed the dive perfectly and seemingly effortlessly.

——

I’ll give you a moment to wipe away the tears of mirth.

In ninth grade, I’d never really kissed a boy and spent most of my time reading. And I didn’t even read romance novels, if you can believe it after the above display. I liked westerns, Catch-22, the classics (Janeite, here!), some sci-fi and fantasy. It’s not like you’d look at me back then and say “Oh, there’s a girl who emerged from the fetid stew of middle school hormones with only one thing on her mind.”

But really, ninth grade me?

So here’s my reminder of how easy it is to broadcast the unspoken reaches of your mind without ever noticing. Sometimes, the story we think we are telling is only a piece of the narrative.

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