Male. Life has been less kind than time to him, he is around fifty years old but seems older. He has an abscess on his left cheek and attempts a smile with the right side of his face. He laughs a lot, although most of the time his laughter is followed by heavy coughing. He also smokes a lot. But nonetheless keeps laughing and selling his jokes to the passersby, attempting to steal the glimpse of a smile and some coins. He has gray hair, gray beard. Both haven’t been cut in a while, they seem a thick layer that protects his skin from foreign touch. No hand shall caress this face or it will be stung. He has kind eyes. Everytime he tells a joke they light up, mimicking the ironic climax by opening or closing the lids depending on how loud he expects you to laugh. But even if you don’t laugh at all, not even the shadow of your lips turning upwards, he’ll still give you his kindest smile, opening wide his eyes and heart.
Nico closes his notebooks, thin pages covered in thick lines, the ink from his fountain pen bleeds into the next one and then the next one and the next one and so on until his diary has open wounds bleeding all over. One could think that with so many wounds germs and bacteria are the one to enter the body. But this is a journal, not a human body, and only stories enter here. Or better, only people enter here.
Pages and pages and pages filled with
faces, noses, dialogues, shoe sizes, rings,
impressions, colors, eyes meeting, hand gestures, walking pace
Nico observes people until he grasps the core of their personality, the unique essence of what it means to be uniquely themselves. Starting from a first impression, he tries to disentangle one’s characteristics to dig with a shovel into themselves. One could say he’s obsessed with people, but it’s not in a creepy way- or so he says. The thing is that he really can’t understand no he really can’t figure out what how can people just carry themselves through the world with such ease, how can they just know:
-what to wear
-what to say
-how to say it
-how to walk
-where to walk
-where to look
-how to look
-how to move
your hands, fingers, head, feet, mouth, lips
-how to kiss
-who to kiss
-where to kiss
-how to hug
-how much is too much squeeze
-how to touch
-where to touch
(do you like it here?)
-how to ask
-how to hold hands
-where to put your hands at the cinema
-where to put your hands in a smashed subway
-what’s polite or not to do on a crowded subway
-how to choose when something is too much
-where to put boundaries
-how to put boundaries
-where to look when you say something uncomfortable
-how to hold your head when you listen
-how to smile when you disagree
-how to hold your pen
-how to choose words
-if to choose words
-how to speak loud
-when to speak loud
-when to whisper
(do you like it here?)
-what to whisper
-how to carry your body through a crowded street
-how to carry your body in an empty room
-how to carry your body and your being through life
Nico observes, and takes note, and learns -oh god if he learns- how each person is so unique and why each person is so unique and how do they carry the weight of the world in their special peculiar authentic way, and how did they figure it out, and what did they figure it out and
why did he not figure it out? what does it mean to figure it out?
why does he not know how to walk and talk and touch and listen and look?
How do they know how to become themselves how to be themselves?
How can Nico be Nico can become Nico
how can he carry the weight of the world and carry his body through space and time and drift with it?
He doesn’t know. He just knows that he chooses a bench / a chair / a stool / a seat
and just observes and looks and scribbles and writes.
Or that is what he believes.
Boy, in the blissful age of being 20-something. He has messy dark brown curly hair that fall on his frowning forehead just above the eyebrows. His lips are tight together, jaw clenched, all his body is tense. All this tightness seems to break out in the green notebook he keeps scribbling on. It’s a fast paced scribbling, not a careful caress of pen to paper, but rather an attack at each line. His eyes fastly track every movement and alteration in his surroundings, they jump up and down and left and right based on what the focus of his attention does. His whole body seems to be projected towards this notebook, only the eyes differ: they’re projected towards somebody. He’s condensed tension and pressure, all his being dedicated to one mission. All his body working together for it. His breathing is the director of the whole orchestra. It paces the rhythm of writing and of changing his gaze. It’s fast: inhale-look // exhale-write.
The boy takes a deep breath. Closes the notebook.
Nico started observing people at 13, when high school felt a scramble of identities and he didn’t know what to pick, where to be in the corridors, what to wear. Everybody seemed so sure about which group they wanted to be part of, how to behave in that: the athletes walk in the center of the corridor, the nerds tend to stay on the side, the theater kids jump around the space.
Nico stayed in the corners, the meeting of two walls hugging him gave him the confidence to stand up straight and contain his multitudes. But he didn’t know how to move with them, or what to do with them. So he hugged the corners back and observed. First just by taking mental notes, then by doodling his observations on the corner of his school books. He later evolved into journals, and now his room has a stack of notebooks of people of voices and characteristics that echo each other and multiply. And the stack grows and multiplies as well and the walls hug all of it and the echo of characteristics and voices and impressions and expressions echoes through the wall and echoes inside Nico. Because everytime Nico collects somebody he acquires a bit of their personality as well: the way a kid waves hello to his mum, how a lady looks out of the bus window, the tiptoeing of a student waiting for the bus. In all this echoing, this messy world of multitudes, Nico carefully collects the particular signs of people on his path and signs it as theirs, and makes it his.