This morning, before the start of writer’s school classes, I walked down Seaside’s 1stAvenue to the promenade. At the end of the avenue a man, bareheaded and wearing a heavy plaid shirt, slumped on a bench. He faced in the opposite direction from a gull perched on a nearby railing. They both looked like they were disgusted with each other.
After I used my phone to take a picture of them, the man rose and stared at me. I walked up to him and admitted that I had taken a picture of him and that I’d happily delete the photo is he wanted that. He didn’t. We chatted for a minute, him probably trying to figure out my deal, me thinking that he looked like an aged version of rocker David Crosby with his salt and pepper hair and walrus mustache.
A 20-knot wind swept up the beach. It explained why the man and bird faced away from each other. The man wanted to let his back take the cold impact of the wind. The bird, like all gulls would, was weather veining into it. The wind couldn’t explain the expression I saw in the man’s face. He was probably just focusing on the sound of heavy surf or maybe dreading what the dark clouds collecting over the ocean would bring us later in the day. But after spending a week at writer’s school, I couldn’t stop myself from mentally writing him a script—one where he revives a memory of loss or mistake.