Thursday, October 25, 2012

dear austen keene

Dear Austen Keene (fine young fellow who I interviewed at the comic bookstore last Saturday),

I do believe that I saw you yesterday, waving at me from across the street and smiling the sort of broad, charming smile that only unabashedly clever, book-consuming, rather nice 15-year-olds can manage.

Please know that I'm often terrible at recognizing people's faces, especially when I run across them out of context or am surprised. I once ran into a boy I sat across from in English class for four entire years and couldn't place him, even after he told me his name. I once ran into the brother of a friend, had a conversation with him, and had no idea who he was until several hours after we parted. Funerals, weddings, and large parties are always a trial. I'm either faced with a familiar face that I can't attach to the story of a life, or, more embarrassingly, a face that pounces on me with recognition while I remain blank.

This is why I looked confused, turned away, and assumed you were waving at the only other young person in visual range, despite his obvious fascination with the phone clutched in his hands.

Please know that talking to you reminded me that there is a point to telling stories, beyond the pleasures of telling and consuming. Beyond craftsmanship and art and technique, there you are, the human being on the other end of the street, the one whose soul some lucky story will get to leave its fingerprints all over.
"I'd say that while I don't really have a book that's changed me, reading has sort of made up what I do, how I look at things. It puts ideas in my head. In the comic I'm reading now, the pure of heart are kind of, like, in both sides, so you're not really sure who's good and who's bad. So maybe the bad guys aren't the ones who are really doing the bad things, and things aren't really what they seem. And that really excites me. I could go on for hundreds and hundreds of books." -- Austen Keene
Oh, and if you see me again, just wave until recognition drills through my thick skull.

x. M

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