James & Jenna
Part I: Do You See It?
Most people say I'm odd. I'm quiet, and I can't seem to hold a conversation with
people I call, "ordinary". I see the world in a way most people are blind to. I
can create from nothing and what I create is pure beauty. Or at least that's
what people tell me. It's built inside me. I have no idea where it comes from.
My dad is a construction worker and my mom is just a mom. She stays at home and
makes sure my dad is taken care of. You know? Your everyday housewife. I guess
you can say I got it from my dad. Building houses from the ground up is another
form of art. The concept, plan, then build. But I don't build houses. I write. I
walk around with a small notebook in my purse, and when the light bulb clicks on
I write it down. Everything I see inspires me. Graffiti on a wall, overheard
conversations, people walking along, and even the simplest of things like the
stars in the sky.
"What are you writing about today Jenna?"
James. We have been friends for nearly fifteen years. The
only man I seem to be able to hold a conversation with. He's not like me, yet he
understands me in some sort of way. Although, he has his days when he questions
"Are you home in there?" He gives me a couple taps on my
"What are you working on today?"
I simply look up and point at a young couple sitting under a
"Them. When they walked past me they were arguing about a
baby and how it's a bad idea because neither one of them have a good job."
"I don't get you sometimes."
"No one gets me. No one sees the world that I see. All they
see is the other little sheep in this world. Me? I don't fit here. That's
why I created my own little world to suit me. Right here in my notebook."
"Am I a sheep too?"
"You sure are James."
"You're lucky I love you, Jenna."
"You're lucky I tolerate you."
"Are we done here? Can we grab dinner and head home? Or do
you want to sit here longer and read lips?"
"I wish I could read lips."
"Put the notebook away and let's go!"
"Just let me finish this paragraph. Then we can go. I
Car rides with James are always the same. He's the DJ and I
sit in the passenger seat staring out the window. James calls it people
stalking. I do not stalk people, I observe them. People are interesting. No two
are exactly alike. Even identical twins. They're different as well. One might
have a mole, or a freckle, one could be straight while the other is gay.
"He kindly asks the man if he can spare some change. Instead,
the man spits in his face and walks away." I keep my eyes on the homeless man
with his tin cup in hand as we pass by.
"What man got spit on?"
"I didn't mean to say that out loud. Don't mind me."
"People stalking again?"
"Observing." I corrected.
James pulls into the same Chinese place we had three times
already this week. Our typical go to. The outside is like every other old
building on the block. Plain, white stone, nothing fancy. But when you walk
inside. It's like you've walked through a portal to a new world. Transported
straight to China. The amazing fountain in the center of the restaurant looks
just like the pond at the Temple of Heaven. The water is crystal clear allowing
the visitors to see the Koi that swim around. It serves the best Chinese food in
town and I do love it. But, I also don't want to get burnt out on it.
"James, we had this place too many times this week. Let's get
food somewhere else."
"I like this place."
I just give him a look and he understood. I didn't even have
to open my mouth and say anything. We are both like this. I guess being friends
for so long we developed a silent language. We could be having a conversation
and I give him a look, and he'll answer as if I spoke out loud.
"Fine!" He said, rolling his eyes at me. "What do you feel
"What about Mexican? Sal's over on Sherman is only a block
away, and they're fast at getting our food together for take out."
"That place closed down Jen."
"What? When did this happen?"
"Last week. We watch the news together every night and you
had no idea?"
"I guess not. Okay, what about pizza? Right here, next door
to your beloved Chinese food."
"Pizza works. What kind?"
"Surprise me. But not with Hawaiian."
"No Hawaiian. Got you. Are you paying?"
I pull two twenties out of my purse and hand it over to
James. He just smiles. That smile of his inspired me a few times before. It's so
incredibly beautiful. Perfect straight teeth for someone who has never in his
life had braces. They are the perfect shade of white. Just.... Perfect.
"I was joking. But okay, you're buying."
"Just shut up and go."
I love watching him. I love him. We never dated. We decided a long time ago that
we did not want to risk ruining our friendship. At the same time, we both know
we would be good together. Everything we do in life is 50/50. It can end up
being good or it can be terribly bad. Sometimes we all have to make a choice,
take a risk, and roll the dice. For example, the pizza we bought was horrible.
The center wasn't cooked fully and the edges were a tad bit burnt. Note to self:
No new places for food.
"That pizza was so bad Jen. You are not allowed to pick take
out any more. You're fucking fired. Toast. Pack your shit and get the fuck out."
He waves his hand around just like Donald Trump would. He
makes my heart melt every time he smiles at me.
"James? Come outside with me so I can give you a glimpse
inside the mind of a writer." I tug on his index finger.
"In the middle of the night?"
"Just trust me."
With my firm grip on his finger, I lead him outside to the
middle of the yard and sit, pulling him down beside me. This was the perfect
night. You could see a million stars, and that's rare for Los Angeles.
"Are you ready?"
"I guess so."
"The mind of a true artist. Is the ability to see. Not look.
Most people go about their day looking inside windows, at street signs, at the
clouds. But they don't see anything. They can't look beyond the surface to see
the true beauty in everything around them."
I look up at the sky for only a second. The words are already
written out for me.
"She stares up at the star filled sky, she points up and
begins to trace what seems to be nothing at all. The words are written right
there, the paint strokes are there, all other inspiration you can think of is
right over there. Without taking her eyes off the stars she asks him, do you see
"...." James is quiet, studying the sky.
"A moment of silence falls onto them. She looks over at him
and this time, she whispers, do you see it? His lips curve into a smile and she
asks him again, do you see it?"
"What you see, is what you create. It's everywhere. Grain of
sand to the stars in the sky. Invisible to everyone who chooses to close off
that part of their mind."
"You make me wonder what it's like to see through your eyes."
"It would amaze you. The things I see that you can't, it's
beautiful actually. Step one, just take a closer look."
"I see.... The most amazing, brown haired, green eyed woman.
She's the most beautiful thing I've seen. Do you see it?"
"I see you."