Storytelling in an unconventional form, lyrical essays are contemporary creative nonfiction. Like a mesh of writing style, lyrical essays bring together the qualities from memoir to poetry to research writing, but most importantly – narrative. Storytelling techniques provide structure and meaning to what can initially be perceived as a jumble of words. Because the lyrical essay is essentially boundless in style, rules are not enforced. However, it’s common most lyrical authors employ heavy use of “I” and “you.”
1. It is Sunday when you have tennis rackets in one hand, reaching for the door knob with the other.
“Why do you want to go play tennis? You never play.”
The sun is just starting to set. You smile.
“Mom, I just wanna talk to people.”
2. On Tuesdays when the sky turns yellow, you swing your foot over the back wheel of your bike, and pedal over to the library. You notice the bike of the red-hatted man. Other times there’s an extra gap. And if that is the case, then sometimes, you find him en route: the middle of the bustling intersection on El Camino Real. The man blares his words, flooding out the silent hum of the packs of Teslas. Shades on, airpods in, and a hunk of metal too expensive to be penetrated by his milked megaphone, each wave bounces off the cars and redirects itself – at you.
3. 22… 21… You start to cross. A pair of neon orange suspenders. Two Go-Pros sitting against a grey shirt – Maybe he’s your angel number – and to top it off, that cherry red hat. 12… 11… The megaphone is pointed at you. The blaring sound hits you. But, you can never actually decode a single word within the blare. So you try to respond: a glance in his direction. 2… you swing your leg over the wheel.
4. In the library, you greet Kathy, Joe, Courd, and Felipé (in English). Duty calls that Courd runs the front desk. He pops back in to utter a thought (in Spanish). The Tuesday routine is this: bike to the library, have a conversation in more languages you can count on your two hands, then bike home at 9pm.
A. “have a conversation in more languages” ; Oh wonderful, wonderful language swap! Every Tuesday. 2 hours.
5. Felipé is from Brazil, he travels a lot and –you learned this in my anthropology class – apparently, you didn’t know an entire culture of people could be so outgoing. But it’s true, everyone from Brazil becomes friends in 2.1 seconds. Courd’s personality? Uhh, Midwestern boy. English major. Once when we read things in French. Joe sent in a nerdy math paper in French–none of us understood him. Coding is banned to qualify as a language of discussion. For 2 hours straight on Xīng qí’èr, we discuss how jazz is truly the pinnacle of American culture. For deux heures, we discuss the etymology of Gen Z slang, the alternative market after the closing of Milk Pail, or the foreign equivalents to r/me_irl.
B. “Xīng qí’èr, 星期二” ; Language: Chinese ; Translation: “Second Day”
C. Milk Pail ; Open-Air market: domestic/imported cheese
D. r/me_irl ; Reddit thread ; French version: r/moi_dlvv (mois_dan la vrai vie)
5. “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN”:Tuesdays Tonight at 9pm PST. The words stare back at you: crisply embroidered and very American-television-teeth-esque white. You unlock your bike alongside his, glancing down to avoid the letter’s stares. You watch his movement as he flips the bike lock as you flip yours. You watch his hands as they reach for his helmet. You watch his hands when they suddenly stop in its busy movement –
It’s pitch black.
But he’s never done anything wrong to you, has he?
You respond first with a glance up. And then he begins to talk. A two-way conversation. This time, you hear his words and he hears yours. He talks about his family. His face lights up. And maybe he is your angel number because disregarding the dark night and the cherry red hat, you enjoy the conversation.
Funny how only the old, white men are the only people who think other people want to talk to them.
Wait. That is prejudging. My bad.
To create this essay, I began by interviewing my friend and asking her questions in her daily life. I asked questions in an attempt to search for an interesting juxtaposition to zone in on. Below is the transcript of our conversation.
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